Saturday, November 7, 2015

Aaron Copland: Concerto for Clarinet and String Orchestra

Martin Fröst, clarinet
Norwegian Chamber Orchestra (soloist conducting)

You can hear the recording of Benny Goodman with Aaron Copland conducting on Youtube, the composer and the man who commissioned him to write the piece.  Goodman was a responsible virtuoso commissioning works from fine composers for his instrument.

I was a little skeptical when I came across this performance because Martin Frost is so good looking. It was like the first time I encountered Hillary Hahn, beautiful young soloists arouse my skepticism wondering if it's more marketing than musicianship but sometimes the looks are just incidental to really fine playing.   And sometimes even homely soloists aren't great.  Martin Fröst plays the long cadenza like solo in a way I might need to get used to, but Copland was notably accepting of soloists playing his pieces in different ways.  As I recall he remarked that the people playing his violin sonata had found bell-like sounds in it he didn't realize were there.  This isn't Benny Goodman's playing but it's pretty good.   I understand he often leads the orchestra as soloist which might not be a bad idea if you can do it.

Just a sort of desert after the Copland Series.  I hope it stays up longer than the Leo Smit recordings of the Four Piano Blues, which seem to have been taken down already, one of the hazards of basing a post on a Youtube.

The Latest Scientific Fraud You're Reading About In The News And On The Web

Taking a break from the topic of the foundation in Darwin's natural selection for eugenics, in both its English and German forms, someone has hurled the newest made-for-media-attention slam at religion, especially Christianity and Islam in the form of a piece of social science as evolutionary biology.  It's a good example of how the Evolutionary Psychology, from here on in to be denoted "evo-psy" for ease of tying and, I hope to indicate what I think of it, and how it, among other things, replaces the construction of a story about the entirely unrecorded past for any actual evidence of what happened in the past which led to who had children and who didn't have children, thus passing on genes, etc.  But, for this post, I'll concentrate on the how of the fraudulent study instead of the alleged framing of the results as biology.

Here is the study, The Negative Association between Religiousness and Children’s Altruism across the World

The study claims

Decety and colleagues assessed altruism and moral cognition in six countries.  Parents in religious households reported that their children expressed more empathy and sensitivity for justice in everyday life.  However, religiousness was inversely predictive of children's altruism and positively correlated with their punitive tendencies. 

Wow, "across six countries" as I heard it reported, this morning,  that sounds like a massive study.  It makes you wonder how many of the people in the media and the twits on twitter who are talking about this read any farther than this "In Brief" description  It says everything that a social scientist could want to be the take-away message which, these days, is guaranteed to get your study media exposure.

What six countries?  Canada, China, Jordan, Turkey, USA and South Africa.   Well, for a start, there is no representation of Latin America or Europe, two rather significant populations with a range of different religious cultures in them.  And, yet, this study is supposed to represent entire worlds of religion.  I would wonder how representative their samples of  religious and non-religious populations in just one of those countries can be believed to be representative of those two populations in any one of those countries, the United States, for example.

Well, all of the children from the United States in their sample came from Chicago, hardly a place which is typical and which, as any large city will, has its own particular cultural quirks.  And, I will point out, hardly likely to be similar to a sample of children taken from a rural population or, perhaps, a suburban one. And which children in Chicago?  Those who go to a prep-school?  A parochial school?  A public school?  A public school in a poor neighborhood or in an affluent neighborhood?  The recruitment was done in school settings, somehow, from what follows, I don't think the children in Chicago were recruited from a range of schools.

That becomes an interesting problem for taking this study at all seriously when you look farther into their methodology, which is typical of these kinds of experimental studies.

The number of children studied in all is 1, 170, to continue with the U.S. portion of that number, I can't, from my quick, sleep-deprived glance at this study find what percentage of those where American children who live in Chicago.  But if, say, it is one sixth of that number, that would be 195 children from the Chicago area who represent the hundreds of millions of Christians in the United States, most of whom were raised in Christian homes.  Only, no, that isn't right either because, presumably, some of those 195 children must have been, or, ideally, should have been Muslims because there are Muslims mentioned in the Study, as well as members of other religions and those brought up in non-religious households. The study says that its universal sample were 23,9% Christian, or a sample of 280 children to represent all of the Christians in the world as characterized by their results.   If you take a sixth of that, you find that about 46 and two-thirds of children in the Chicago area might be purported to yield significant results telling you something about the character of well over two hundred million Americans who are Christians, in vastly different denominations.

And that number of 1,170 children isn't what the results were based in because they threw out the numbers for religious groups which were too small to yield what they purport are significant results.   Oh, and just so you can guess the nature of the science of this study, while they base their characterization of the billions of Christians of the world on 280 children, they define the more than a billion and a half Muslims on a population of 510 and of "not religious" on  323 children.  While noting that the sample sizes are skewed to not reflect the percentages of Muslims and "not religious" populations in the world, the size of those samples are inadequate, as well.

I don't think a reputable statistician would hold those are valid sample sizes.  In her extremely valuable book for non-statisticians, Seeing Through Statistics, Jessica Utts in discussing the issue of sample size in judging the validity of the results says,

The more divers, or variable, the individuals are within each group, the larger the sample needs to be to detect a real difference between the groups.  

Given that logical and sensible rule, the stupendous inadequacy of a sample of 280 children to represent the set of all Christians in the world is easily seen from this:

As defined here, world Christianity consists of 6 major ecclesiastico-cultural blocs, divided into 300 major ecclesiastical traditions, composed of over 33,000 distinct denominations in 238 countries, these denominations themselves being composed of over 3,400,000 worship centers, churches or congregations.

World Christian Encyclopedia by Barrett, Kurian, Johnson, Oxford Univ Press, 2nd edition, 2001

Clearly the world wide numbers of billions of children brought up in Christian homes can't be characterized by 280 children sampled in Chicago, Toronto Canada, Amman Jordan, Izmir and Istanbul Turkey, Capetown South Africa and Guangzhou China, which is purported to yield a characterization of billions of Christians around the world.

And note, those are cities, the "in six countries" claimed in the study is a fraudulent claim, it is actually in seven municipalities, in which of any, the samples are so tiny that they couldn't possibly indicate anything typical of those cities,  the hundreds of thousands, hundreds of millions and on to billions of people in any of the purported parts of the world population they pretend to define.  

On that basis alone, this study is a scientific fraud.

And that's only the problem of their clearly and absurdly inadequate sample.  Their methodology to discern differences in "altruism" and "punative" characteristics in the huge range of real world childrens' lives is ludicrous.   And there are more problems with their sampling

The children who were "recruited" (aka, volunteers, to some extent, not a randomly chosen sample)  from schools (in some of those countries school attendance is related to income and in other cities, such as Chicago, given schools don't have a reliable distribution of incomes to be representative).

The ages of those children studied ranged from 5 to 12.  OK, there's a red light right there for anyone with real life experience of real children.  There is no way to guess how even one child would react to their study, based on a lame "Dictator Game" at age 5 and at age 12, there is no way to guess if a kid who is as generous as anything at age 5 won't turn into a totally self-absorbed, selfish brat under the influence of puberty, which may well be just taking over at 12.  Not to mention any single child at any of the other ages.  A 12-year-old can display entirely different behaviors one day to the next.

And that's in real life.  Their study was based on a totally artificial "Dictator Game" the point of which, I don't get and I doubt any of the children in the study got.   Here is the entire description of it in their study.

Dictator Game 
In this task, children were shown a set of 30 stickers and were told to choose their ten favorite.   They were then told “these stickers are yours  to keep.”  Children were instructed that the experimenter did not have the time to play this game with all of the children in their school, so not everyone would be able to receive stickers.

Huh?  Where's the game?  I defy anyone to tell me what the point of it is for an adult imposing it on these kids, never mind what it's supposed to mean to the kids being studied.   And, really, STICKERS?  Those are supposed to be of some great value to children ages 5-12, from totally different backgrounds and cultures?   I would bet that you would find the full range of interest in stickers in a class room of any one of those ages but I can guarantee you that by the time those kids are 12 a lot of the kids would consider STICKERS baby stuff and expressing an interest in them would get you mocked by some of the kids.

I could go on all day pointing out why this study is a complete piece of crap as so many social science and, these days, neuro-sci studies are, based in ridiculously tiny samples which are in no way randomly chosen or representative of the population they are supposed to represent.   And this study is so bad that I will accuse its authors and Cell: Current Biology, where it is published to have had an ideological motive in its publication, which was guaranteed to get into the news as another slam at religion.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Aaron Copland - Night Thoughts: Homage to Ives

I hear echos of Copland work going back through all of his work in this, a real masterwork by a man who produced so many before it.

I think this is where I'll leave the Copland series of his neglected work, though the largest part of his work falls into that category.  If America hadn't had the head cut off of its intellectual infrastructure by the stupidest of commercial pop culture more of it would be known.

Do Your Worst

I wish I could tell you how funny it is to have Steve Simels and some guy who is so mature he calls himself "Skeptic Tank"  mocking me for being a country hick instead of the city sophisticates they are.

And even more so that they think it's going to bother me, considering that more than half of the guys they're yuckin' it up with are probably even less cosmopolitian than I am.  

The big difference between me and them is that I don't care what a couple of guys from places like NYC think about me and they're nervous when they get mocked like that.   I guess it's time for me to take out my theme song again.

Update:  Watch out, Sims, you wet yourself laughing at your own jokes.   Or is that from something else. 
Shorter Steve Simels:  "I didn't bother to read it because it was too long".  

Shorter Thought Criminal:  "Tell me something I didn't know six years ago."

Update:  I didn't realize till just now that Steves smarter cousin lives in Maine.


The Complete Difference Between Antisemitism Among the Nazis and Antisemitism Among the Christians

So, what' you're showing me is that you didn't read that link at the start of yesterday's post.  Guess I'll have to do a post about the substance of it in a future post.  For now, I'll deal with the rest of your comment.

I should have learned my lesson a long time ago, people who have THE TRUTH of the matter, that the Nazi murders of six-million Jews was the fault of Christianity, that those are the only murders in their large range of mass murder that are significant and the only ones that are allowed to be considered in discerning what made them kill six million Jews.  So, of course, such people in possession of such a truth don't need to read footnotes, look at links and to do any actual reading of the growing and ever deeper body of scholarship which looks, in depth at the only real source of information about why the Nazis killed six-million Jews and, especially, the men who made the decision to do that.  As with the material I've been looking at in regard to eugenics, the only real way to have any reliable knowledge about that is to look at all of what they said about why they did it, the reasons they gave to do it, what they used to persuade other people to do it or go along with it.  And doing that research into the thinking of the Nazis is extremely unpleasant and no fun and the opposite of entertaining, which is probably another reason you don't know it exists.

Most of that scholarship hadn't been done even a quarter of a century after the Nazis had fallen, much of it has been done in the past twenty years and it continues to be done.  One of the most valuable aspects of history as opposed to journalism or even the direct experience of current events is that it can provide a view of a time and of events which isn't even available to those directly involved in the event.  It's quite possible for someone studying history to know more about the Nazi mass murders than those who were directly involved in planning and carrying it out.  Most of the documentation of that period was not published or distributed, a lot of it was held by a tight knot of those planning the murders, kept from the general public.  I think it's entirely possible for honest, indepth scholarship to provide a fuller picture of that than even the Nazis could have if they'd paused from their crimes long enough to take a scholarly view of their own actions.

The documentary record is what any reliable ideas as to the motives of those who planned and carried out the mass murders must be made of .   That, unfortunately, isn't what the mandatory common received wisdom of thisamong the most crucially of understood atrocities is is based in, the common recieved wisdom is found mostly in novels, TV shows, movies and much of it in ideologically interested snark and propaganda which began to build a line of thinking in the late 40s and early 50s and which couldn't possibly be less interested in the truth.  That has become the master narrative of this period, the one which Steven Weinberg gives as the reason for his vicious hatred of Christianity and religion, the origin of his famous atheist slogan about religion being what makes good people do bad things.

For someone to say that is certainly ahistorical and it is oh, so convenient because that means they've nailed their target, religion, which means that their preferred framing of reality, science, is totally innocent of any involvement with the Nazi genocide.  Then you can safely label the science of the scientists involved "pseudo-science" and be done with that, never mind that the science of such scientists is also called "science" and, as has been noted here, has been used in post-war science, some of it using the very images and actual body parts of Jews and others whose murders were custom ordered,  Dr. Mengele handling many such orders from people in university departments of science.  And, as well, these men being "pseudo-scientists"  doesn't seem to have been noticed by many of their scientific colleagues even when it came to their scientific "racial hygiene" in the pre-war period.   None of them were thrown out of science.  As I mentioned some of the foremost architects of the Nazis' racial classification and assignment of value and of valulessness went right on working in departments of science at major universities.  At least one, Konrad Lorenz, was granted a Nobel prize, though not for his work published during the war on the evil consequences of so-called race mixing in support of Nazi ideology and practice.

In my post yesterday about the fact that what is widely accepted in scientific circles as science Evolutionary Psychology, was able to contain such a scientist as Kevin MacDonald and his bald-faced neo-Nazi style antisemitism for many years, giving him faculty appointments, professional honors, the prestigious role of editor of more than one professional journal apparently isn't nearly as troubling to poeple as it should have been.   As I noted, his science is based on Darwin's most important idea, Natural Selection, as was all of the racial theory of the Nazis.   Given its history in relation to the human population, and given its origin in the economic theories of Malthus and the British class system, it is inseparable from applications to human beings, I'd say that it's clear that in some cases what it takes for good people to do bad things, it takes Natural Selection.

I will repeat my decision to stop using quotes around the word science or to put such science as informed the Nazis into sanitary detention as "pseudo-science".   Scientists of that period cast the lot of such science by their refusal to reject those ideas at the time or to expel such scientists from high positions in university departments of science or highly financed laboratories.  As she just about always does,   Marilynne Robinson put it best,

Dawkins deals with all this in one sentence. Hitler did his evil “in the name of. . . an insane and unscientific eugenics theory.” But eugenics is science as surely as totemism is religion. That either is in error is beside the point. Science quite appropriately acknowledges that error should be assumed, and at best it proceeds by a continuous process of criticism meant to isolate and identify error. So bad science is still science in more or less the same sense that bad religion is still religion. That both of them can do damage on a huge scale is clear. The prestige of both is a great part of the problem, and in the modern period the credibility of anything called science is enormous. As the history of eugenics proves, science at the highest levels is no reliable corrective to the influence of cultural prejudice but is in fact profoundly vulnerable to it.

I would agree with the caveat, that Christianity which does evil is certainly Christianity in opposition to the teachings of the man who defines what Christian practice consists of, Jesus. If all Germans had followed the teachings of Jesus there would have been no Holocaust, there would have been none of the mass murders committed by the Nazis.   And, in this matter, they would have also had to reject who Jesus was, his entire person and identity defined by him being a Jew who cited Jewish prophets and who even died, marked by the Roman State as a Jew just as the Nazis marked his fellow Jews who they murdered.   You can't say that an atheist who was a Nazi was violating any aspect of atheism to do what they did because there is nothing in atheism that would hold what they were doing was an evil act that would come back to them.

The Nazis saw Jews, not on the basis of their religion but as defined by their biological heritage. Christian Jews were as marked for extermination as atheist Jews or observant Jews.  That's certainly not how any mainstream of Christians saw Jews.   As noted, it's certainly not how the Catholic church in the 19th or 20th century - the only time period relevant to this discussion - or earlier centuries saw Jews*.  As noted, such Holocaust victims as the nun St. Edith Stein were seen by the Catholic hierarchy as being full members of the Catholic community.  There were priests and bishops whose biological heritage would have marked them for death as Jews by the Nazis on the basis of their biological heritage.  And I only deal with the difference between the Nazi way of viewing people and the official Catholic view of people because that's what I know the most about.

Today's mandatory, common received wisdom of the Nazi death machine prevents a real understanding of what happened.  The passage by Daniel Gasman I posted the other day notes that a fuller understanding of the reality doesn't serve the scientism of people like Robert Richards and, I will add, such atheists as Steve Weinberg

But this claim demonstrates a disturbing lack of knowledge about German history and the history of modern anti-Semitism, because it leaves out the emerging school of “scientific” secular anti-Semitism that Haeckel belonged to and was one of the founding fathers and a guiding light. He does not understand that so-called “scientific” anti-Semitism was much more lethal and prophetic of National Socialist ideology than purely religious traditional antagonism against the Jews.

The attempt to blame the Holocaust on the long history of antisemitism among Christians diminishes the scope of the Nazis' aspirations.  In the more than a thousand years in which Christian antisemitism was a factor in history, there had been no systematic attempt to purge Europe or the world of Jews, there had, also, been repeated attempts by Popes and other religious figures to keep the secular rulers who promulgated blood libel rumors (such as those of Innocent IV, Gregory X, Paul III, ) and condemnation of evictions of Jews from doing those things.


There is no better example of that difference than one of the modern scandals of Papal wronging, the kidnapping of Edgardo Levi Mortara, who was borm to Jewish parents who lived in the Papal States and raised by his parents as a Jew until it became known that he'd been secretly baptized as a baby by a servant when it was feared he might die.  Pius IX (a pretty screwed up guy) had the boy taken from his parents.  The Pope adopted him, raised him as a Catholic and, unshockingly for a kid raised in the Vatican, he was ordained as an Augustinian priest.  The kidnapping of the boy was certainly an evil thing to do, it was a crime, one of a number of antisemitic acts taken by Pius IX, perhaps the last pope against whom a charge of serious antisemitism could be laid.  He also promulgated a number of downright medieval style antisemitic laws for the Papal States, before they were removed from his rule.

I won't go into the history of Egardo Montara, this article by John Allen from the National Catholic Reporter does a good job of going over, not only the sins of Pius IX and some of the subsequent history of Montara.  But I will note the crucial difference.   Christian antisemitism is not based in the biology of the person, in their supposedly unchangeable heritage, it is based on their ideas.  In the article which quotes Elena Montara, the great great niece of Edgaro Mortara, she defines that difference

“They removed him from the family and kept him segregated in a totally Catholic environment precisely because they knew his education would determine what he became,

That is exactly what the difference between the old antisemitism of Christians and the Darwinian antisemitism of the Nazis rests in, the difference between seeing people as physical, biological units whose definition is predetermined and fixed by their biological heritage and seeing people as living beings defined by their thinking and capable of being everything more than their physical, biological heritage.  There is every possibility that even with Edgardo Montara's abduction and indoctrination, he could have chosen to return to his families religious faith.  He was free to change who he was, what his life would mean, on the basis of his choice,. That possibility is denied by the biological determinism of the Nazis and of eugenics derived from Natural Selection.  Nature, biology,  is what makes the crucial determination of the value of the individual under that framing of reality.

In his career as a priest, Montara specialized in giving ineffective sermons to try to convert Jews to Catholicism, in which he was a notable failure.  And it was not welcome by many Catholics who knew it would offend Jews and be scandalous.  When he came to the United States, the Archbishop of New York,  John Corrigan, refused to finance his missionary efforts.

And in that act, intolerable as it is to us, today, is another crucial difference between how the Nazis saw Jews on the basis of their biological heritage and how even Catholic antisemites saw Jews.  Nazis totally rejected the idea that Jews could be Germans, The men at the very top of the Catholic hierarcy, even antisemites among them, wanted Jews to be Catholics.

Egardo Montara died in Belgium in 1940.  I haven't found just how he died.  If he had lived even four more years it is quite possible that as a Catholic priest he could have been sent as a Jew to the death camps on the basis of his Jewish heritage, as so many other Jews, observant, secularized, atheist or converted to Christianity were.

There is no doubt that what was done by Pius IX in that case as in his antisemitic acts was wrong and it was evil - lots of Catholics were opposed to his canonization on the basis of those and other acts.  I'm totally at a loss to understand how Pope John XXIII, whose heroic actions in saving Jews from the Nazis and whose confession and reconciliation with Jews is still considered a landmark, today, could have held Pius IX in high esteem, which is what the article says.  But calling what Pius IX did by the same name that is used for what the Nazis did blinds people to the crucial difference between them.  It obscures the reason that one person performed limited acts hostile or indifferent to the feelings of Jews and another successfully murdered six-million Jews on the basis of who they were on the basis of their unchangeable biological heritage.  If you don't think there is a difference in that, you really haven't thought about this as deeply as you need to.

Update:  Rereading this after having more coffee and being woken up by facing hostile teenagers - real ones with an excuse, not the superannuated type who send me hate mail - I realize that I got the roman numeral wrong.  If I haven't corrected all of them, it was Pius the Nineth who kidnapped the kid, not Pius the Eleventh who issued the encyclical attacking the Nazis and their racism to be read at all German churches in 1937.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Hate Mail - The Illiteracy, It Burns

Apparently, from what I'm told, Steve Simels doesn't realize that the quote I posted from Daniel Gasman was written by a prominent historian of the Holocaust, not by me.   Considering the general aversion to careful reading among the neo-atheists of E-ton, that's a lot less surprising than it should be.

There is something that is also common among them, the inability to think in ideas but in prejudices which they merely play with like building blocks, making simple structures that are liable to get knocked down with little force.   Yeah, what William James pointed out.  Thus anyone who doesn't fall for their entire dogmatic program has to be a right-wing Republican and a Biblical fundamentalist, white supremacist (or a Ben Carson supporter) etc.  Which I guess they figure is going to bother me when I get called such things by such simple minds.  But, you know, it doesn't bother me, it encourages me that they've got nothin'.  Nothin'.  Not a single thing to counter with but that.  And it doesn't work with me because they lack the first thing it would take for it to bother me, my caring about their opinion.

Update:  And just now he's showing his ignorance of the kind of young people who know something about musical comedy.   Gee, like I haven't known any of those in my time as a small town music teacher and gay man.   And then there's my niece who's addicted to musicals.   Maybe I just know a more intelligent bunch of young people than a senile, washed up, pop music scribbler and blog fly.

Update 2:  "How do you know Seth MacFarlane is a phony?"

That one's easy,  I've heard him croon.

The Failure Of Scientific Review And Of Learning From History

 "National Socialism is nothing but applied biology."  
Rudolph Hess

In checking the statistics of this blog, expecting to see it was bleeding readers as the topic of the Nazi's application of natural selection dominated, I was surprised to see the opposite.

Maybe there is more entertainment value in responding to the idiocy by such as the cacophonously pseudonymned "Skeptic Tank" than I imagined.   While I can't claim it's been hard it hasn't been nearly as much fun as the effort has taken.  Which, since I'd read what he and the others so clearly have not, hasn't been that much effort.  If the topic wasn't such a deadly serious one I wouldn't bother. But eugenics and scientific racism are live malignancies in the human population even now, seventy years after the world saw what it leads to.   In her review of  Richard Dawkins The God Delusion, Marilynne Robinson said

The God Delusion has human history and civilization as its subjects, inevitably, considering the pervasiveness of religion. Dawkins dwells particularly on Christianity, since he is most familiar with it, and because its influence is and has been very great. On the one hand, he professes a lingering fondness for the Church of England and regrets that familiarity with the Bible, a great Literature, is in decline. On the other hand, he finds the Old Testament barbarous and abhorrent and the New Testament mawkish and fairly abhorrent as well. His treatment of these texts depends to a striking degree on a “remarkable paper” by John Hartung, an associate professor of anesthesiology and an anthropologist. The paper, titled “Love Thy Neighbor: The Evolution of In- Group Morality,” originally published in 1995, is available on the Web. Dawkins and his wife are thanked in the acknowledgments. Curious readers can form their own impression of its character. A sympathetic review by Hartung of Kevin MacDonald’s A People That Shall Dwell Alone: Judaism as a Group Evolutionary Strategy, with Diaspora Peoples is also of interest. These are murky waters, the kind toward which Darwinism has often tended to migrate.

Later in the review she pointed out that Hartung and Dawkins demonstrated their dishonesty on the topic of the character of the Jewish people to take a swipe after two well known Jews, Jesus, foremost and Saul aka. Paul.

Dawkins says, “I need to call attention to one particularly unpalatable aspect of its [the Bible’s] ethical teaching. Christians seldom realize that much of the moral consideration for others which is apparently promoted by both the Old and New Testaments was originally intended to apply only to a narrowly defined in-group. ‘Love thy neighbor’ didn’t mean what we now think it means. It meant only ‘Love another Jew.” As for the New Testament interpretation of the text, “Hartung puts it more bluntly than I dare: ‘Jesus would have turned over in his grave if he had known that Paul would be taking his plan to the pigs.” Pigs being, of course, gentiles.

There are two major objections to be made to this reading. First, the verse quoted here, Leviticus 19:18, does indeed begin, “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people,” language that allows a narrow interpretation of the commandment. But Leviticus 19:33—34 says “When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. . . . You shall love the alien as yourself.” In light of these verses, it is wrong by Dawkins’s own standards to argue that the ethos of the law does not imply moral consideration for others. (It would be interesting to see the response to a proposal to display this Mosaic law in our courthouses.) Second, Jesus provided a gloss on 19:18, the famous Parable of the Good Samaritan. With specific reference to this verse, a lawyer asks Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus tells a story that moves the lawyer to answer that the merciful Samaritan—a non-Jew— embodies the word “neighbor.” That the question would be posed to Jesus, or by Luke, is evidence that the meaning of the law was not obvious or settled in antiquity. In general, Dawkins’s air of genteel familiarity with Scripture, though becoming in one aware as he is of its contributions to the arts, dissipates under the slightest scrutiny.

Though I haven't made anything like as careful a study of where such ideas as Dawkins came from, I strongly suspect, since he cites Hartung, it is reflective of the science of Kevin MacDonald.

You can look up both Kevin MacDonald, former professor of psychology at The University of California, Long Beach, and John Hartung online, I believe you can still read Hartung's paper online, You'll have to do a search for it, I don't give links to things like that.

Kevin MacDonald's CV is interesting because while he was writing books and articles of pretty obvious neo-classical antisemitism (You don't have to trust me on that, you can read what the SPLC says about him) as academic discourse, he held many, many positions as a faculty member at prestigious universities, held the post of editor at journals of evolutionary psychology, etc.   And, while there was notice that Professor MacDonald was publishing antisemitic propaganda as science,  the nature of his science seems to have escaped serious notice until another famous academic, the well-lauded Hitler apologist and Holocaust Denier, David Irving, called him as a witness in his infamous British lawsuit to try to silence the genuine historian, Deborah Lipstadt who had pointed out he was a Holocaust denier.

For anyone who isn't familiar with the incident, even with the massively favorable British libel law on his side, Irving lost the case spectacularly, was called a Holocaust denier by the judge in the case, from the bench, and the subsequent fact checking of his previously well received books purportedly on the history of the Nazi era revealed he'd been pretty much falsifying the history to whitewash Hitler and the Nazi era.   Last I heard he was conducting tours for neo-Nazis and white supremacists of Auschwitz, telling them that the site was a primitive forgery instead of the location of among the most enormous crimes in the history of the world.  Which, I will point out, has been much discussed as a failure of historical review among historians, though I'm not certain that it's led to an enhanced level of review and fact checking.   Considering some of the big name British historians who had given him good reviews, I'd think it would force the question if celebrity academic book reviewers shouldn't be held responsible for the glaring falsification of history they endorse, sometimes.

For some reason, all of those people who had been reading MacDonald's antisemitic science, publishing it, giving him academic status based on it, making him the editor of scientific journals, suddenly, realized that the guy had been promoting some of the most primitive and vicious sterotypes about Jews as evolutionary science for the entire time.  Belatedly the faculty at his university, in the twilight years of his career said:

"While the academic senate defends Dr. Kevin MacDonald’s academic freedom and freedom of speech, as it does for all faculty, it firmly and unequivocally disassociates itself from the anti-Semitic and white ethnocentric views he has expressed."

Well, after all of his professional honors and privileges had been bestowed, after his work had passed scientific muster, isn't that nice for them to have noticed.

Let me put this in large print because if anyone failed to notice, the nature of MacDonald's antisemitic science had, for years, successfully escaped being caught in review by what is purported to be the most rigorous field of rigorous academic research and careful fact checking, science.  

Evolutionary science has clearly not cleaned up its act, it has not learned anything much from the history of scientific racism, eugenics social Darwinism, it has certainly not considered the role that its most lauded of theories, Natural Selection played in all of them.  As Marilynne Robinson noted, Richard Dawkins was pushing John Hartung's quite similar material as reliable science to the a popular audience.  And at the time  Darwkins held a chair at Oxford for the Public Understanding of Science. Apparently such eminent figures in science as Dawkins and and many of his colleagues, reading fairly obvious antisemitic propaganda, Protocols of The Elders of Zion content with language not to jar post-war sensibilities too strongly, and accepting it as science.  They clearly either were too ignorant of modern history to notice that or they didn't care that's what they were promoting.

I am not the only one to say that, by the way.

A review praising MacDonald's first book appeared in the journal Ethology and Sociobiology four years ago (the publication was in the process of being taken over by HBES at the time); the author, John Hartung, a professor at the State University of New York and a former secretary of HBES, concluded that the Holocaust, "the most enormous act of reactive racism ever perpetrated," had been misrepresented as an unjustified evil so as to cow non-Jews into looking the other way while Jews "purloin" land in Israel. According to Lingua Franca, which covered the incident, the only public reaction to Hartung's review was a "tepid" letter by the journal's editor saying he didn't realize that it could be offensive, and an outright defense of Hartung by HBES's then-president, Dick Alexander. As for MacDonald, the author of the book that inspired these remarks, there was little visible effort at the time to refute him or to challenge the appropriateness of having him serve in so many key positions.

At the foundation of all of this is the idea of natural selection, evolutionary psychology is based on making up stories and narratives about largely unrecorded and verified eras in the past, characterizing them in order to find traits that provide an evolutionary advantage.  That absolutely none of that talk about the unrecorded past is even verified to have happened, never mind being identified in people who produce more instead of fewer children who lived to produce children, seems not to count as long as they can come up with a plausible story which is deemed sufficiently Darwinian to be accepted as science.

I don't have time to really go into detail about this, though I could, I will just say that this is hardly a dead issue.   It won't be for as long as natural selection is the dominant required framing through which evolutionary science is seen and understood.  The history of natural selection has produced eugenics, neo-Malthusian economics which call for the further destitution of the destitute and poor, the Nazi understanding of science which led to their mass murders and in the post-war period, neo-eugenics and, as seen in the Evolutionary Psychology of such people as MacDonald and Hartung, a recapitulation of some of its earlier products.   I would call that a pretty seriously damning history of an idea.

The Massive Mountain of Primary Evidence Isn't Going To Be Buried In Library Stacks Anymore It's Freely Available Online

I stayed up too late brawling with the cacophonously named "Skeptic Tank" a few threads below.  it wasn't hard but I had to be half awake to do it.  So I'm taking the morning off.  I might post something new at noon time or this evening but I've got to go to work.

In the mean time, since. to so many of a sciency bent, the idea of primary documentation would seem to be something of a mystery, here's one of the first things I wrote on the topic of looking beneath the Darwin Myth

A Note about Documentary Evidence and Primary Sources

Having written several posts on Darwin's place in the history of eugenics, Social Darwinism and related matters during the past six years, one of the most common dodges his champions will make is that you've provided "no evidence".  That, even as entire paragraphs and sections of books, citations and links to books and letters BY CHARLES DARWIN, the same from Galton, Haeckel, Leonard Darwin, Francis Darwin, and others are right there on the post attached to where the automatic dodge of "no evidence" is made.  That, along with the recently invented phrase "quote mining" are the first line of defense of the Darwin myth among those who can't argue his record*.

As I mention in my response to that charge in the comments last year,  documentary evidence is not the same as the physical evidence that science is based on.  That difference isn't because the evidence of science is superior, in some ways documentary evidence could be considered better.  One of the most important of those ways is that documentary evidence of the kind I'm using has little of the ambiguity of physical evidence.   A written document is made to transmit information, it is made intentionally to inform the reader of what the writer intended to say.  That is not something that can be said about physical evidence which must be interpreted to achieve even part of that level of meaning.

That Charles Darwin said something in a book or letter can be known to within the range of absolute certainty.  That he said it more than once can be as well and that magnifies the level of certainty that what was said was what he meant.  And there is a very good reason to go farther than that.   That he said so in scientific citations in a book he intended to be taken as having the reliability of science is about as strong a proof as possible that he agrees with what is said, especially when he cited it with gushing enthusiasm, as he did with both Galton and Haeckel.  A scientist, speaking as a scientist,  must be accountable for an even greater level of certainty.  That must be held as the price for the, at times inflated, reputation science  and scientists enjoy**.   That Charles Darwin said those things and that his approval is approval, is known to within a much narrower range of possible error than almost anything that he ever used to support natural selection.

What Darwin said constitutes the primary record about his career and his thinking.  What Galton said, what Schallmeyer and Haeckel said about their work is the primary source information relevant to knowing what they said, what they wrote and what they thought and, most importantly, advocated through those texts.  Anything honest said about that will have to be based, at the first instance, on their own words.  Secondary material doesn't carry the same evidentiary power as the primary material and, in this matter, it is frequently polluted with ideological and professional twisting and, I strongly suspect, the knowledge that whenever Charles Darwin's eugenics, racism, class consciousness, sexism etc. are mentioned the Darwin Industry machine will attack.

That said, I don't think historians are nearly assertive enough in supporting the validity of their best work, the work in which they report with as little bias as possible, what the documentary record shows.   I think the best of history has to stand as at least as good as the best of science in the representation of reality.  That history deals with an entirely more complicated range of  life and phenomena than science makes it extremely important, especially in regard to human conduct, individually and collectively.  That makes history extremely important.  Something I think historians should remember in their relationship with science, which is not able to address the same range of things.  Especially with arrogant scientists.  I don't think historians need to be cowed by the prestige of science.  The entirely reputation of science is based in its ability to, sometimes, give us information of great reliability about the physical universe.   But history can produce at least the same level of reliability.   There are things in the historical record that can be settled to a certainty rare in science.  If historians are met with scientific arrogance, that should be their answer.

It is absolutely certain that Darwin said what he said in The Descent of Man, taking account changing material in different editions.  He is responsible for the editions of his work that were made under his care, he said what he said in them, he said what he said in letters that exist in his hand.  When he says something more than once, the primary record confirms itself.  When Darwin said something and he didn't retract it, it stays said for as long as anyone can read what he said.

* The traditional practice of objecting to dishonest and incomplete quotation used to be to present fuller quotes or a larger context.  That, though, requires familiarity with the subject matter being disputed.  Habitually reciting the term "quote mining" as is done on so many science blogs, should be seen for what it is, a lazy, ill informed shortcut that as easily distorts the  actual record as it does even identifying an actual act of dishonest quotation.   After having seen how it is used I never see or hear it without suspecting the person saying it is too ignorant to be discussing the topic.  As I noted in my post linked to at the beginning of this piece, it is something that Darwin seems to have done, himself and that the Wikipedia article on "quote mining", itself, contains a major instance of it. [Or, considering the frequent ideologically motivated "editing" of Wikipedia, it was at the time I first wrote this.  I haven't bothered to go back and look at it and anyone who reads this who wanted to could "edit" it before you read this.]

** Anyone who is held to be a representative of the truth, anyone who takes that on as a profession, must be held to that level of honesty and sincerity.  Judges, prosecutors, clergy.... all of them should be held to that standard of honesty because they present their positions as being that honest.

 Update:   I will include that since writing that I've come to be convinced that what more than one of Charles Darwin's closest family members said about him, reaches the same level of reliable evidence as what Charles Darwin said, himself.

For the purposes of arguing these matters today, when no one who knew Charles Darwin intimately has been alive for more than a generation, there is absolutely no one alive today who has more credibility than his own sons who agreed that their father supported eugenics and the ideas behind it.  That Leonard Darwin had said and was was still saying things like that in the period right up to the beginning of the eugenic murders of the Nazis is not honestly discounted as evidence of his father's thinking.

As important is that fact that no wonder what the present day defenders of Darwin want to insert into his mind and his heart of hearts, any eugenicist who cited On the Origin of Species or The Descent of Man or even the theory of natural selection as the inspiration of their eugenics has made as irrefutable a connection between eugenics and Charles Darwin.   No one has the standing of Francis Galton in naming Charles Darwin's Origin of Speices as being the origin of his invention of eugenics, which he said, in no unmistakable terms in his memoir.  And to support his case that he correctly understood what Charles Darwin said in that book, he included Charles Darwin's letter praising his first book of eugenics, Hereditary Genius, a book which he continued to endorse as valid science which supported his idea of natural selection in The Descent of Man.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Art Lund from the original cast of The Most Happy Fella in 1956 - Joey Joey Joey

It's one of the best performances of the song I've heard, very different from how it's usually done by the guy who originated the role. With the verse, for once.   One of the comments compares the melody to the last piece in Aaron Copland's Billy the Kid suite, I can see what they mean, though I never made that connection, myself.  Frank Loesser might have done some creative stealing, though it might be a coincidence.  It's not like some other far more obvious and extensive similarities we've been considering here this week.

Apparently Seth Macfarlane crooned the song and a lot of young people think of that when they think of this song, which is really too bad because Seth Macfarlane is a complete phony.  Better to hear the real thing.

Peggy Lee - Joey Joey

Peggy Lee could turn a banal song into something a lot more than that.  This record always struck me as one of the few uses of reverb that did something other than sound cheap.

Update:  And what she could do with a superior song is incredible.

Peggy Lee & Benny Goodman - How Long Has This Been Going On?

Say It, Ella

More Hate Mail At Noon - Well, Daniel Gasman Pretty Well Demolished Richards' Case for Haeckel, Unfortunately He Did Some Cover Up Of His Own

I agree with a lot of what Daniel Gasman said about the dishonest approach of Robert Richards in his doing what the St. Darwin industry did for Darwin for Ernst Haeckel.   His review of The Tragic Sense of Life begins this way:

IN BEN STEIN’S DOCUMENTARY FILM Expelled, the erstwhile game-show host and financial
columnist attempted to link Darwin to Hitler and thereby condemn the scientific theory of evolution by association with the political theory of National Socialism. The film failed, fortunately, and was thoroughly panned by the critics. But in the cultural brouhaha stirred by the film’s release and subsequent disappearance from the big screen, not enough attention has been paid to whether or not there was a historical connection between the social Darwinists of the 19th century with the National Socialists of the 20th century. It turns out that there is, through the personage of the German biologist Ernst Haeckel; but a new biography of Haeckel, published shortly after Stein exited stage left, claims to rehabilitate Haeckel by disconnecting him from German social Darwinism, and thereby exonerating evolutionary theory. Unfortunately this new biography does no such thing, for in the end we must be true to the historical facts.

Rereading that last sentence, let me say "amen" ten times.  And in that spirit, let's begin by saying "good riddance" to Ben Stein, without further comment.

I think Gasman did a pretty good job of dismantling Richards' case by pointing out that the only way he could cover up Haeckel's long and damning written record was to suppress major parts of it in his presentation, likely the only thing many of his readers would ever read on the subject of Ernst Haeckel.  Not to mention those who only read clipped passages of it online.  This is typical of, not only Richards, but the wider effort to distance those in Charles Darwin's inner circle from eugenics and, since eugenics in English can't be disassociated from them, the Nazis.

Richards insists that Haeckel has been misrepresented as an anti-Semite, and that in fact Haeckel
stood out during his time as someone who had befriended the Jewish community in Germany. However, Richards is able to arrive at his denial of “Haeckel’s alleged anti-Semitism” by an egregious manipulation of evidence, including indiscriminate omission of incriminating material and by offering what can only be described as fantastical interpretations of passages from Haeckel’s writings dealing with the Jews. Richards repeats the litany that Haeckel has been falsely accused of hostility to the Jews — “the tendentious charge of anti-Semitism by Gasman….’14 But this claim demonstrates a disturbing lack of knowledge about German history and the history of modern anti-Semitism, because it leaves out the emerging school of “scientific” secular anti-Semitism that Haeckel belonged to and was one of the founding fathers and a guiding light. He does not understand that so-called “scientific” anti-Semitism was much more lethal and prophetic of National Socialist ideology than purely religious traditional antagonism against the Jews. In my book, Haeckel’s Monism and the Birth of Fascist Ideology (1998, 2008) the discussion of the Monist writings of the important French proto-Nazi authors Jules Soury and Georges Vacher de Lapouge — both translators into French of some of Haeckel’s major writings and close disciples of Haeckel — make clear that the ideological foundations of National Socialist anti-Semitism can be directly traced back to the specific influence of Haeckel. Of course, Richards does not mention any of this material, because he is determined to sanitize his book and omit any historical sources that might undermine his fallacious arguments that seek to deny Haeckel’s antagonism towards the Jews and connections with National Socialist ideology in general.

In his remarks in 1894 to the literary critic Hermann Bahr in an interview on the Jewish question,
Haeckel declared the “Jewish Problem” to be a “racial question,” extolled anti-Semitism as a politically creative force, justified its historical role and held the Jews alone responsible for its appearance, and he demanded that the Jews give up their religious identity and disappear from German life as a separate community — hardly examples of statements Richards believes he has found that prove Haeckel’s philoSemitism.

Those parts of the record Gasman mentions which I have read - and he's obviously read more of it than I have, yet - I agree with everything he says there.  And it's all of a piece with his monism which Gasman talks about in the first section of his review.  One thing about monism is that it must be universal and believed to include every possible aspect of life, the universe and everything.  That's what makes it monist.  In that part of his review Gasman totally demolishes Richards' attempt to associate Haeckel with Unamuno when Unamuno was absolutely opposed to Haeckel.  Frankly, that Richards thought he could get away with that one and lots of other things - and he largely has - is rather damning of the intellectual climate that doesn't fact check at all*

I agree with virtually everything Gasman says about Haeckel's proto-Nazism, I disagree entirely with his attempt to separate and distance Haeckel from Charles Darwin.   In order to do that you have to do what he succeeded in showing Richards' arguments try to do, you have to completely disregard what Darwin said about Haeckel's interpretation of Darwin's theory of natural selection and other matters.

Darwin endorsed Haeckel's interpretation of his Natural Selection and other ideas in many letters to Haeckel and to others and most importantly and publicly in his gushing, and effectively complete endorsements of Haeckel's  Generelle Morphologie and Naturliche Schopfungsgeschichte in The Descent of Man. And in that, his second most important book on evolution, Darwin's adoption of ideas from Haeckel, some of them as pathological as the beneficial effects for the survivors of infanticide, the elimination of the "weaker members" of the species whether by letting them fend for themselves and perishing before they could reproduce or through their deaths in the struggle for resources.  Darwin also asserted the malignant effects of charity on the welfare of society and a host of other moral atrocities.  Darwin may have not had the German cultural habit of putting things in philosophical terms very often, thus not specifically endorsing Haeckel's monism - though he could hardly have missed Haeckel's attribution of his pathological monism's final triumph to Darwin - but he endorsed the man, his writing and his ideas as the highest science.

I have found that just as Gasman says you have to ignore the real Haeckel to exonerate him of proto-Nazism, you have to ignore what Charles Darwin said AS SCIENCE with all of the guarantees of reliability implied by that to separate him from Haeckel.

And that isn't a personal observation, it is one that was made by those who knew Darwin, his inner circle of scientific associates such as Thomas Huxley and Ray Lankester and his own son, Francis Darwin, who, unlike any of us today, observed his father and Haeckel talking privately at Darwin's home at Down.

The earliest letter which I have seen from my father to Professor Haeckel, was written in 1865, and from that time forward they corresponded (though not, I think, with any regularity) up to the end of my father's life. His friendship with Haeckel was not nearly growth of correspondence, as was the case with some others, for instance, Fritz Muller. Haeckel paid more than one visit to Down, and these were thoroughly enjoyed by my father. The following letter will serve to show the strong feeling of regard which he entertained for his correspondent—a feeling which I have often heard him emphatically express, and which was warmly returned. The book referred to is Haeckel's 'Generelle Morphologie,' published in 1866, a copy of which my father received from the author in January 1867.

I will note that in his book, The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin  it's clear that there were letters to Haeckel from his father that Francis Darwin didn't know about, their correspondence was more extensive than that comment leads you to believe.

If anyone reads Haeckel, from early and on through his career as a writer, he will find that Haeckel constantly cites Darwin and Darwin's writing and ideas.   If anyone during his lifetime tried to distance him from Darwin, Haeckel could point to all of those things mentioned, the letters, the glowing and even gushing citations of Haeckel's work and ideas by Darwin, his gladness at having Haeckel's books translated into English, gaining influence for his ideas, and the fact that unlike anyone I've ever found who tried to distance Charles Darwin from Haeckel,  Haeckel was on intimate terms with Darwin, having visited him, repeatedly on those visits that Francis Darwin witnessed.  For example.

....Neither of those expressions is correct. Darwin himself was convinced of the fundamental importance of progressive heredity quite as much as his great predecessor Lamarck; as were also Huxley and Spencer. 

Three times I had the good fortune to visit Darwin at Down, and on each occasion we discussed this fundamental question in complete harmony. I agree with Spencer in the conviction that progressive heredity is an indispensable factor in every true monistic theory of Evolution, and that it is one of its most important elements. If one denies with Weismann the heredity of acquired characters, then it becomes necessary to have recourse to purely mystical qualities of germ-plasm. I am of the opinion of Spencer, that in that case it would be better to accept a mysterious creation of all the various species as described in the Mosaic account.

If anyone who didn't know Darwin wanted to say Haeckel wasn't representative of his thinking, he had letters by the dozen where Darwin thanked him for not only being  "one of the few who clearly understand Natural Selection" [Letter of 9th of March, 1864]  not only that but thanking him for expressing his ideas "boldly" and that. "Many men in this country & elsewhere really go nearly or quite as far as I do on the modification of Species, but are afraid openly to express such views."  Obviously the bold language used by Haeckel was welcomed by Darwin.  On top of that there are many more letters and the public endorsements of his science.  And there are many, many more of those letters, in Darwin's hand, his florid endorsement of Haeckel in his own scientific writing and the testimony of those who knew Darwin better than anyone.

If Daniel Gasman wants to say that Haeckel corrupted Darwin, Haeckel could cite the ultimate authority to disprove that accusation, Charles Darwin.

*  This all seems to be part of the same phenomenon of lax intellectual life that has produced the major and little reported on replication crisis in science, the file draw effect scandal, research to order for corporations, government agencies, etc.   It would appear that everyone is just assuming that someone else has been doing the fact checking and verification so they don't bother doing it, themselves, unless they are attacked.  I can't help but note that the honors system only works when people have a sense that it is a sin to lie and that when you call it science or history or scholarship which have been granted assumptions of producing reliable knowledge that the little things being let slip leads to massive lying about the big things.

Intellectual life depends on moral absolutes that science doesn't recognize, in fact, science does, too.

Hate Mail - I'm Not Making This Stuff Up

Yeah, I do know that Darwin approved of Victor Carus's translations of his work, BECAUSE HE TOLD HIM SO IN LETTERS THAT STILL EXIST.

Here, with Charles Darwin's son, Francis Darwin's introduction.

[The next letter is of interest, as giving the beginning of the connection which arose between my father and Professor Victor Carus.  The translation referred to is the third German edition made from the fourth English one.  From this time forward Professor Carus continued to translate my father's books into German.   The conscientious care with which this work was done was of material services, and I well remember the admiration (mingled with a tinge of vexation at his own short-comings) with which my father used to receive the lists of oversights, &c., which Professor Carus discovered in the course of translation.  The connection was not a mere business one, but was cemented by warm feelings of regard on both sides.]

C. Darwin to Victor Carus.
Down, November 10, 1866.

My Dear Sir,  - I thank you for your extremely kind letter.   I cannot express too strongly my satisfaction that you have undertaken the revision of the new edition, and I feel the honour which you have conferred on me.   I fear that you will find the labour considerable,  not only on account of the additions, but I suspect that Bronn's translation is very defective, at least I have heard complaints on this head from quite a large number of persons.  It would be a great gratification to me to know that the translation was a really good one, such as I have no doubt you will produce.   According to our English practice, you will be fully justified in entirely omitting Bronn's Appendix,  and I shall be very glad of its omission.   A new edition may be looked at as a new work….. 

…  Pray believe that I feel sincerely grateful for the great service and honour which you do me by the present translation.

I remain, my dear Sir, yours very sincerely,  Charles Darwin. 

P.S.  -  I should be very much pleased to possess your photograph,  and I send mine in case you should like to have a copy.   

If you want to read the whole thing, here's the link.

Of course, you guys, some of you born more than a century after Charles Darwin died, figure you know his thinking better than his own children did, people who not only saw the guy but were brought up by him.  And not only him but his closest colleagues.   I do find the detail about requesting a picture and sending one to be downright creepy.  Sounds like he was thinking a bit like a matinee idol by that point.


Needless to say, I find reading the writings of Hitler, Mein Kampf and the "Second Book" and speeches, and table talk among the most unpleasant and revolting things I've ever done for this blog.   The man oozes evil and pathological thinking.  But, then, I made my way through Haeckel, The Descent of Man, Galton, Leonard Darwin, Karl Pearson, Charles Davenport, Paul Popenoe, Baur-Fischer-Lenz and various lesser name eugenicists.   I always feel like washing my eyes out with soap afterward.

I an coming, ever more, to be convinced that Hitler read Haeckel, there are too many echos of things Haeckel wrote in what Hitler said, though I have certainly not made a systematic search of the writings and sayings of those two moral atrocities.   I wonder if anyone has gone through the two things to find similarites that are rather unmistakable, such as the ones that both the opponents of Hitler and such Nazis as Heinz Brucher noted.   I'm not looking forward to becoming even more familiar with the two but it looks to me like there could be some unmistakable evidence that Hitler got a lot of his thinking either first hand or from someone paraphrasing Haeckel.  I wouldn't be surprised if he'd looked at The Descent of Man but still think it's more likely he'd directly copy a German than a Brit.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Priority Doesn't Matter If You're One of Those They Got Around To Killing

The vulgar question of priority has been raised in the discussion about who among the dead from the mass murders of the Nazis are most worthy of consideration, now seventy years after the fall of the Nazi government and the public revelation of the extent of their crimes began to be revealed, the extent of which, are still not told.  This word "priority" can be used in any number of contexts and framings of discussions and what it means will be limited by those contexts and framings.   If you take the popular one when discussing the Nazis, it will be that you have to find which group to be wiped out by murder first entered the mind of Adolph Hitler.   Which would be a rather hard thing to do because, as I mentioned the other day, Hitler had little discernible moral conscience which would have made him tell the truth of his intentions or his thinking.  He was a complete liar, saying things that didn't reveal his intentions, his lies and deceptions calculated to disarm possible opponents and to gain advantage by duping them.  He did it in his formal treaties with governments, including most notably, Stalins' pact with him well past the time his many previous lies and broken agreements should have clued Stalin in that Hitler couldn't be trusted to keep an agreement for a month.  The Vatican had learned that in 1933, which accounts for why it, among putative governments, having the most vulnerability and the fewest means of defense, made some of the strongest statements condemning Hitler before and during his campaigns of mass murder. including some made during the war as the Vatican was under siege and the Catholic and Protestant churches were under attack and, as also demonstrated here, marked for extermination, as well.  But there is far more to be said about that, soon.

Who were the first people Hitler openly marked for biological elimination from the human species? In terms of action and law, it would be the disabled.  Here is what the Holocaust Museum online says about that.

On July 14, 1933, the Nazi government instituted the “Law for the Prevention of Progeny with Hereditary Diseases.” This law, one of the first steps taken by the Nazis toward their goal of creating an Aryan “master race,” called for the sterilization of all persons who suffered from diseases considered hereditary, such as mental illness, learning disabilities, physical deformity, epilepsy, blindness, deafness, and severe alcoholism. With the law’s passage the Third Reich also stepped up its propaganda against people with disabilities, regularly labeling them “life unworthy of life” or “useless eaters” and highlighting their burden upon society.

Just a few years later, the persecution of people with disabilities escalated even further. In the autumn of 1939, Adolf Hitler secretly authorized a medically administered program of “mercy death” code-named “Operation T4,” in reference to the address of the program’s Berlin headquarters at Tiergartenstrasse 4. Between 1940 and 1941 approximately 70,000 Austrian and German disabled people were killed under the T4 program, most via large-scale killing operations using poison gas. (This methodology served as the precursor to the streamlined extermination methods of the “Final Solution.”) Although Hitler formally ordered a halt to the program in late August 1941, the killings secretly continued until the war’s end, resulting in the murder of an estimated 275,000 people with disabilities.

The role that salesmanship played in the mass murders of the Nazis is far too little considered, as well as the role that their purposeful and gradual program of habituation to the idea of mass murder among the German population who, if they had announced their intentions to do such things during the campaign that put them in power, they certainly would have mobilized more of their opponents and never have been in the position to form the government.  Even after their election they couldn't put their entire plan into effect but they had to gradually, through eliminating their most immediate opponents without exciting those who might waver, gradually though relentlessly disempowering and eliminating their opponents, eventually terrorizing them and, all through that, propagandizing the general public.  The eugenic posters of that period were certainly aimed toward the goal of killing the disabled.  If that were not the case then the cost of their continued living, sterilized by the Nazi eugenic program, wouldn't have been emphasized. "This person suffering from hereditary defects costs the community 60,000 Reichsmark during his lifetime. Fellow German, that is your money, too."

If you wanted to go through the vulgar exercise of establishing priority as a means of assigning a ranking of the lives taken on this appalling assignment of significance you could match those legal and extra-legal means of marking the disabled for first involuntary sterilization, a program to prepare the German public for their elimination on the basis of being "useless eaters" because their lives were "unworthy of life" and the end point of that obvious plan of public propaganda, their murder in such places as the gas chamber constructed  Hadamar hospital, the corpses of the scores of victims transported to be murdered, daily, in a specially made Mercedes Benz bus, burned in the specially constructed crematorium to burn them, that could be done by looking up dates.

Of course, if you move the frame back a bit and look at the wider picture in which the Nazi eugenic-murder program developed, you would find that it was part of the wider program of eugenics which had included proposals for the identification and murder of the disabled since at least 1868 in the passage advocating Spartan style mandatory infanticide of the disabled from Haeckel's Natürliche Schöpfungsgeschichte which I posted the other day, noting it was an idea which was taken up by others, including Hitler.*  Of course it could be pointed out that Haeckel, in his ranking of races in terms of their development on a ladder, the most "like apes" on the bottom, the whitest Northern Europeans on top.  But, while speaking enthusiastically about the benefits to the survivors of their eventual and inevitable extinction, he didn't explicitly call for the legalization of their mass murder.

And, if you do make the extremely disturbing and appalling journey of trying to map back Nazi thinking, back into the period before there were Nazis, back through the minds of those who became Nazis, and those who they were taught by, those who they cited in their pre-Nazi writings, the only evidence that we can have to study the origins of Nazi thinking, the explicit call for murdering the disabled was the earlier, most openly advocated and most widely accepted idea for the biologically beneficial mass murders.  As mentioned, Darwin made a similar claim to that of Haeckel and in the next generation of English speaking eugenicists and those influenced by the modern, scientific world view which it was such a part of, people such as H. G. Wells ( the student of Thomas Huxley, aka "Darwin's bulldog") George Bernard Shaw, D. H. Lawrence, Charles Davenport, Lothrop Stoddard, Clarence Darrow,etc.

One particular example is rather chilling, in that he advocated the murder of the children of those he deemed "unfit" simply on the basis of their parentage.

William J. Robinson, a New York urologist and leading authority on birth control, eugenics, and marriage, wrote that the best solution would be for society to “gently chloroform” the children of the unfit or “give them a dose of potassium cyanide.” Robinson also insisted that splitting hairs about any of their “individual rights” should never be allowed to trump the preservation of the race. “It is the acme of stupidity,” he wrote, “to talk in such cases of individual liberty, of the rights of the individual. Such individuals have no rights. They have no right in the first instance to be born, but having been born, they have no right to propagate their kind.

When I re-read that while preparing this post, it brought to mind a particular passage from Mein Kampf.

If the power to fight for one's own health is no longer present, the right to live in this world of struggle ends. This world belongs only to the forceful 'whole' man and not to the weak 'half ' man.

If there is a more succinct statement that divides the belief that people are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights and the mode of thinking which is behind natural selection as applied to the human species, that's it.  That is the meaning of "survival of the fittest" which no less definitive an authority than Charles Darwin equated with his theory of natural selection, as I've mentioned so often, on page 92 of the fifth edition of Origin of Species.

I am sure that, as the current extension of the defense of the mythical eugenics-free Darwin which is producing a revised and sanitized Haeckel would point out, Haeckel didn't put Jews near the bottom of that ladder.   Robert Richards, among the foremost architects of the revised Haeckel says:

And, of course, there is Haeckel’s placement of Semites in the highest branchesof his tree of human progress. In his Natürliche Schöpfungsgeschichte, Haeckel depicted his theory of the evolution of the human species using his new graphic device of the stem-tree. In the first edition of the book (1868), he arranged the human groups—different species, as he regarded them—into a hierarchy of descent, with Papuans, Hottentots, and Australians (and their respective races) sitting on the bottom branches and Caucasians (with their several varieties) on the top (see fig. 1). Haeckel meant vertical position in the tree to indicate the level of progressive advance attained by the various species and races. For different reasons, perhaps, neither his nineteenth-century readers nor we would be surprised to see the Germans and GrecoRomans, among the Caucasian races, at the “pinnacle” (Spitze) of the human species.  But readers, both then and now, might wonder at the placement of the Jews and Berbers. He located them at the same highly developed level as the Germans and within the same species.

So if you wanted to look into the context in which the thinking of the Nazis originated to see which group was first marked for extinction on the basis of biological traits, it would be hard to find a group which was earlier than the one the Nazis started with, the disabled.  Nor would you find a group whose extermination is more acceptably and even enthusiastically talked about in the post-Nazi era on the basis of biological fitness, economic efficiency and a general disdain for their continued existence.  The totally accepted and acceptable talk among neo-utilitarian thinkers and clean handed academics such as Michael Tooley,  Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva and everyone's favorite, the genteel animal-rights advocate and celebrity of high-middle-brow media, Peter Singer. There is no "Never Again" when it comes to them.  Advocating their murder can get you on TV and public radio.

*  In looking at a book by the Haeckel revisionist, Robert Richards, again, the other night, I was reminded that the evidence tying Hitler's thinking to what Haeckel said was made by one of Haeckel's promoters inside the Third Reich, Heinz Brucher.

To tighten further the connection between the National Socialists and Haeckel, Brucher focused on a passage from the Naturlische Schopfungsgeschichte that reads:   The difference in rationality between a Goethe, a Kant, a Lamarck, a Darwin and that of the lwer natural men – a Veda, a Kaffer, an Australian and a Papuan is much greater than the graduated difference between the rationality of these latter and that of the intelligent vertebrates, for instance, the higher apes.”  Brucher then cited a quite similar remark by Hitler in his Nuremberg speech of 1933.   Through his several citations, he made Haeckel historically responsible, at least in part, for Hitler's racial attitudes.
Robert Richards:  The Tragic Sense of Life p 505

Richards then makes a rather slippery and, if you've read the background, unconvincing argument attacking what Brucher said.  To do that he has to attack others who concluded the same thing from reading what Haeckel said and comparing it to what the Nazis said, such as Stephen Jay Gould, and historians of the thinking of the Nazis such as Daniel Gasman and Richard Weikart.  But for my purpose here, that Brucher said it - and he was one of myriads of Nazis who cited Haeckel and Darwin in support of their classification of people in terms of "fitness" - it only matters that they consciously found support for their ideas and applied science in Haeckel, whose ideas in that very book had been most forcefully promoted by Charles Darwin as a milestone in the understanding of his theory of Natural Selection.

Apart from pretty well dispelling the current line in online discourse that since Haeckel's name appears on a list of books to be taken off of library shelves that means the Nazis weren't Darwinists, in the words of a prominent Nazi scientist, it proves that others, Nazis during the Third Reich and anti-Nazis studying it have noted that connection.

I generally find that the more you know, the more you do a deep checking of what Richards says, it is pretty clear that his campaign of Darwinist-Hackel apologetics is far more interested in maintaining the the post-war cover up and a lot less interested in the truth.  I might have more to say about that later this week.

Note:  I'm going to limit my postings on this topic to less than one a day, though the temptation to address every phony ploy of the Knights of St. Darwin is great since just about everything they've ever come up with can be refuted.   Other than the continual cover-up of the Darwin industry, there is no way to reshuffle the cards left by Darwin, Haeckel, etc. to make them mean anything but what they mean.  After seventy years of lying about it, I don't see that they've ever come up with anything that stands a rigorous look at the primary evidence.  That doesn't mean the profitable and ideologically motivated PR campaign will end any time soon, it just means that it has the burden of lying about what the primary documents say.  I feel a moral obligation to add as much to that burden as it is possible for me to do.   In the current campaign to refinish Haeckel's unvarnished version of Darwinism, that campaign reaches about as low as can be imagined.

Update:  Hate Mail

I would challenge anyone to find a prominent 19th or early 20th century German clergyman who advocated the total extermination of all Jews on the basis of their ethnicity and anyone who you might ferret out who wasn't openly condemned by more prominent Christian clergy. In many of the things I have read from Haeckel and the line of those who followed his call to murder all of the disabled, including Hitler, they railed against the opposition of the Christian clergy.

It's certainly not something you can attribute to the Catholic church which welcomed and had no problem elevating converts who had been Jews, among those including St. Edith Stein, who was murdered by the Nazis on the basis of her being Jewish.  Jews who converted or who would be classified as Jews by the Nazis have risen to the top of the Catholic hierarchy, such as Cardinal Lustiger the Archbisop of Paris and Cardinal O'Connor, Archbishop of New York, two of the most prominent archdiocese of the church.

This list  of Jewish Catholics which I found this morning while considering your complaint  is fascinating and I hope to look into it.  I was rather startled to see some of the names which couldn't be more relevant to this discussion such as Fritz Lang, the director and Erich von Stroheim who, as I noted last week, played an evil German doctor in a movie of American anti-Nazi agitprop.  If the list is accurate, all of them would have been classified as Jewish and murdered by the Nazis on the basis of their biological heritage, not their religion.

And I am certain what can be said for Catholics can be said for many other denominations.

Update 2:  Still gassing on about the alleged Nazi banning of all mention of Darwin and Haeckel?  I really don't have time to go looking to see if I can find it online but it would seem rather odd if they did, considering this from four years after the alleged banning of their books.

The official Nazi newspaper, Volkischer Beobachter, published a tribute to Ernst Haeckel on the twentieth anniversary of Haeckel's death in August 1939. The article was entitled, "Um die Abstammung des Menschen: Zum 20. Jahrestage Ernst Haeckels" ("On the Descent of Man: For the Twentieth Anniversary of Ernst Haeckel['s death]"). The title and the article clearly avowed belief in human evolution and praised Haeckel for his evolutionary ideas.

Volkischer Beobachter was the official Nazi newspaper overseen by the Nazi head of propaganda, the vehemently anti-Christian, Alfred Rosenberg.   "Abstammung des Menschen" is, of course, the title that Victor Carus gave to his translation of Darwin's second major book on evolution, The Descent of Man, the book in which he said that if he had seen Ernst Haeckel's book, Naturlischer Schopfungsgeschichte before he'd gotten very far into the writing of Descent of Man, he probably wouldn't have finished his book because he was in pretty much complete agreement with everything Haeckel had said.

I am just about certain that the translation of Carus - which Darwin knew of and, as I recall, approved, was still the standard translation of the book in German.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Hate Mail - The Idiots Will Always Be With Us

"only creationists use the word darwinism...."

I'm not very grateful for Darwin, although I suspect he was right. His ideas make people crueler. Darwinism says to them that people who are sick deserve to be sick, that people who are in trouble must deserve to be in trouble.   When anybody dies, cruel Darwinists imagine we're obviously improving ourselves in some way.  And any man who is on top is there because he'as a superior animal.  That's the social Darwinism of the last century, and it continues to boom.  

Kurt Vonnegut:  Conversations with Kurt Vonnegut p. 76

Aaron Copland - Connotations

Julliard Orchestra, Sixten Ehrling, conductor

There is a common line that is encountered that blames Aaron Copland's early retirement from composing to the alleged stranglehold that "academic serialism" had on American music.  As someone who was obsessed with the American music scene in the 1970s, that assertion is about the biggest load of crap there ever was.   Even in universities, the alleged epicenter the serialist overlords empire, you were far more likely to encounter a neo-classical composer, a neo-romantic composer a non-ideological composer who composed tonal music and, let me tell you, the performances of new tonal compositions were probably more than 20 to one over pieces in some serial mode of composition.  That line was pushed by a small group of failed composers who tried to gain some traction for their music by pushing a "return to tonality" line and, oddly, by Leonard Bernstein, notably in his Norton Lectures delivered at Harvard.  I say "oddly" because he was certainly in a position to know better, certainly about Copland's music.  There were idiot critics who pushed it too, conservative critics who weren't ever happy with the later music of Schoenberg and the 12-tone strategies of composing sustained music.

This piece,  Connotations, from the early 1960s was given its premier by Leonard Bernstein who, as the director of the New York Philharmonic, commissioned the most eminent of American composers to produce a piece for their inaugural concert in their new home at the Philharmonic Hall in Lincoln Center.   I don't know if he ever commented that he was disappointed that Copland wrote a piece of atonal music - though with strong tonal feeling in many places.   The piece is far from Coplands popular works with relatively few performances and much criticism of it.  I've listened to it about eight times in the last week and I think it's a great piece of music.  It takes so many things that he'd investigated in his earlier work and gave it a more serious and rigorous treatment.  Maybe the seriousness of the music was why it was rejected.  I'm sure Bernstein would have liked another Appalachian Spring better but that was a piece for its time just as certainly as Connotations is a piece that is reflective of 1962, the same year we all faced the very real prospect of nuclear incineration, the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a year when the full fury of reaction against the Civil Rights Movement was going on.  It was a year as troubling, in many ways as the time of the composition of his 3rd symphony was full of the possibilities of better times.  If anyone is puzzled by the title, consider what Copland could have been connoting just as he had in his incredible end-of-war Symphony had at the time of its composition.   Aaron Copland didn't stop living, thinking, reading the newspaper and changing as soon as he'd penned the last note of his Clarinet Concerto, which, by the way, is one of his few great masterworks that is sufficiently performed well.   A soloist doesn't want to crap all over one of the major works in their repertoire which they have the good fortune to be performing.   Too bad superstar conductors don't often seem to have that feeling about what they have the massive good fortune to be performing with reliable regularity.

Why those people thought they knew what music Aaron Copland should be writing better than the man who had produced so many masterworks is interesting to consider.  But, luckily, we don't have to wonder about his thinking on that because Copland was a good writer as well as a great composer. In writing about the cold reception that Connotations got, in his 1968 update to his A Composer from Brooklyn, he said.

It brought to the fore once again a continuing discussion concerning the apparent dichotomy between my “serious” and my “popular” works.  I can only say that those commentators who would like to split me down the middle into two opposing personalities will get no encouragement from me.  I prefer to think that I wrote my music from a single vision;  when the results differ it is because I take into account with each new piece the purpose for which it is intended and the nature of the musical materials with which I begin to work.  Musical ideas engender pieces, and the ideas by their character dictate the nature of the composition to be written.   It bothers me not at all to realize that my range as composer includes both accessible and problematic works.  To have confined myself to a single compositional approach would have enhanced my reputation for consistency, no doubt, but would have afforded me less pleasure as a creator.   The English critic Wilfrid Mellers puts it this way:  “There is no fundamental disparity between the two styles;  the same sensibility adapts the technique to the purpose in hand.”   I like to believe that what he says is true.