Respectful Insolence

Well, I’m here in sunny San Diego and about to head on over to the convention center to check out the day’s festivities and to make sure to check out a friend’s poster this morning. (If anyone reading this is attending AACR, you might recognize me by the Plexiglass box full of multi-colored blinking lights and the bad attitude who will have a propensity to whip out a laptop and blog if he finds interesting science to blog about.) The flight sucked, as usual. I was stuck in the middle seat, and the guy on one side of me looked like a bodybuilder and was suitably wide. It occurred to me that muscular people are sometimes worse than fat people for purposes of crowding into your space in such situations because muscle is not squishy like fat.

While perusing my e-mail and a few blogs last night, though, I came across a little discovery that, given my interest in the Holocaust and Holocaust denial, really irritates me. As you may recall, one central theme of the new Ben Stein “intelligent design” propaganda hit piece Expelled! is that “Darwinism” led to the Holocaust (among other atrocities, such as Stalin, etc.). Never mind that, even if that were so (and it’s not–one could just as easily blame Louis Pasteur or Robert Koch using Stein’s “logic”); never mind that eugenics relied more on the concept of animal breeding than natural selection and that social Darwinism was a twisted interpretation of Darwin’s theory. It doesn’t matter. To the idiots Ben Stein and producer Mark Mathis, “Darwinism”=Holocaust, and they try to drive that point home with particularly foul images of Stein showing up at Dachau (at least it looked like Dachau to me on the trailer for the move, a camp which, by the way, was not a death camp for Jews but a standard-issue concentration camp for political opponents, Jews, captured Soviet soldiers, and anyone else who opposed the regime. True, lots of people died there, but extermination of Jews was not the purpose of Dachau. These idiots can’t even get their history right. There were also images of the Krema; so maybe Stein visited Auschwitz, too.)

Now, John Lynch points out one of the “brave” critics of evolution who is apparently interviewed in the film, Maciej Giertych, Professor of Dendrology, right-wing member of the League of Polish Families, member of the European Parliament, and signatory of the DI’s “Dissent from Darwinism” statement, happens to be a raving anti-Semite. Naturally, this is yet another indication that you don’t have to be a “Darwinist” to be an old-fashioned bigot and anti-Semite.

Of course, there are lots of similarities between the rhetorical tactics of Holocaust deniers and of anti-evolutionists like Ben Stein. I realize that saying this offends because of the despicable anti-Semitism and Hitler-worship that is almost always found underlying Holocaust denial, but but that doesn’t make it less true. We’re talking tactics here, and, although I’m usually loathe to use this comparison because it’s so inflammatory, it’s hard not to, given how often Mathis and Stein use the argumentum ad Nazium gambit against the dreaded “Darwinism.” For example, compare these statements:

“We accept that microevolution occurs but do not accept macroevolution.”

And:

“Sure, lots of Jews died, but it was as a result of the war and starvation, not a plan to exterminate them.”

The point is that both Holocaust deniers and evolution deniers “accept” a watered down version of the science or history they despise. ID proponents “accept” microevolution. Holocaust deniers “accept” a “micro-Holocaust of maybe a few hundred thousand Jews, while denying that there was a systematic program to exterminate the Jews of Europe.

In fact, there are many other similarities, and Sergey Romanov over at Holocaust Controversies listed them nearly two years ago. They include calling the evolution or the Holocaust a “religion” (Holocaustianity,” for example); the “show me, step by step” gambit, after which scientists or historians actually showing creationists or Holocaust deniers “step by step” how evolution or the Holocaust happen produces no admission or an arrogant dismissal; the “no empirical evidence” tactic; and, of course, the “cry persecution” tactic, a better example of which than Expelled! is hard to find.

Of course, these tactics are not just common to Holocaust deniers and creationists. Rather they are general tactics used to some degree or other by all forms of denialists, including HIV/AIDS denialists, anthropogenic global warming denialists, or scientific medicine denialists (a.k.a. “alties“). It should be emphasized once again that I’m talking about logical fallacies and disingenuous tactics, not beliefs. None of this means that these other denialists are like Holocaust deniers, other than in the sorts of logical fallacies they like to invoke. Although I wax and wane on mentioning this clear parallel, mainly because it allows the denialist whose logical fallacies are being compared to those used by Holocaust deniers to become righteously indignant at the perception that he is being compared to a Nazi, Ben Stein and Mark Mathis have opened this particular can of worms in a big way, and this point about the commonality of denialist tactics needs to be driven home.

For more, read John Lynch’s article and Sergey’s article.

Comments

  1. #1 Militant Agnostic
    April 13, 2008

    Alberta, Canada’s most infamous holocaust denier (Jim Keegstra, former mayor of Eckville and a former high school teacher) is an evolution denier as well.

    What is the trifecta of denialism? Holocaust, Evolution and Germ Theory of Disease?

  2. #2 Joseph Hertzlinger
    April 13, 2008

    One problem with putting all forms of “denialism” in the same category is that after a few hundred things that are 99% certainly false are called denialism, one of them is bound to turn out to be true anyway.

    If we put them all in the same category, subsequent conspiracy theorists won’t let us forget the exception.

  3. #3 moioci
    April 13, 2008

    I wonder, has anyone asked Ben Stein if we should be “teaching the controversy” in middle school coverage of the Holocaust?

  4. #4 Ben Gorman
    April 13, 2008

    Yes, Darwinism leads to Eugenics which lead to anti-semitism (and forced sterilizations), which lead to the Holocaust. It’s a no-brainer. Crack a history book once in a while, will ya? The philosophical lineage is starkly apparent, except, of course, to the modern day idiots (like the author of this blog), who seek to deny it.

  5. #5 Orac
    April 13, 2008

    Oh, goody. A live one.

    Actually, eugenics is not natural selection, which is what “Darwinism” is all about. It’s artificial selection, very much akin to “intelligent design” in that in eugenics an intelligent (albeit misguided) agency decides who breeds and who does not. That “intelligent” agency might think he or she is acting in the same way as “natural” selection, but it can’t be. In reality, eugenics is more akin to applying techniques used in the selective breeding of animals for thousands of years to humans. No Darwinism is necessary, and forms of eugenics were practiced before Darwin. Also, that eugenicists may have misinterpreted Darwin to justify their misapplication of science does not in any way invalidate evolution, nor does it demonstrate that “Darwinism” inevitably leads to eugenics and the Holocaust.

    The whole “Darwin leads to Hitler” meme that Stein, Mathis, and other creationists are trying to push is nothing more than an argumentum ad Nazium, and that’s the main reason why I’m taking the gloves off when it comes to comparing the rhetorical techniques of Holocaust deniers and creationists. I didn’t used to like to use that comparison because it was so inflammatory, but Stein and Mathis have opened the door, and if they insist on pushing their deceptive meme, then I’m going to encourage firing back with this one, which has the advantage of being true.

  6. #6 Shiritai
    April 13, 2008

    Ben Gorman,

    I see you haven’t done more than just crack open a history book. Plato was a proponent of eugenics, and he was way before Darwin. Even Galton was most interested in Darwin’s chapter on “Variation under Domestication”, which talked about breeding processes which had been practiced for hundreds of years. You see, natural selection has nothing to do with eugenics.

  7. #7 Laser Potato
    April 13, 2008

    “Yes, Darwinism leads to Eugenics which lead to anti-semitism (and forced sterilizations), which lead to the Holocaust.”
    Except that’s not what happened. At all.
    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA006_1.html
    (see claims CA006, CA002.1, and CA005 linked at the bottom of the page)

  8. #8 Orac
    April 13, 2008

    If we put them all in the same category, subsequent conspiracy theorists won’t let us forget the exception.

    Actually, that’s the reason why we try to be very careful to distinguish between denialism and legitimate academic differences. ID creationism qualifies as denialism. So does Holocaust denial. So does HIV/AIDS denialism. Does anyone think that any of these forms of denialis are ever likely to be found to be true? Of course not! Ditto advocates of serious woo like homeopathy.

    Although I see your point, I think your concern is probably not warranted, other than that there is a temptation to apply the label of “denialism” to areas that are not that we must avoid.

  9. #9 Todd
    April 13, 2008

    So, antisemitism did not exist before Darwinism. Where do we find these ‘history’ books you speak of?

  10. #10 Todd
    April 13, 2008

    New meme:

    Eugenics = Intelligent Design

  11. #11 Freddy the Pig
    April 13, 2008

    Ben Gorman – look up James Keegstra in Wikipedia
    Then read what Martin Luther had to say about the Jews.
    Hitler tapped into a long established anti-semitism that was endemic in German society.

    I have read the sections of Mein Kampf (It is available on line at many sites since it has no copyright) on race and the Jews – he doesn’t mention evolution or Darwin, but he does mention the creator and Christianity a lot.

  12. #12 Harry Eagar
    April 13, 2008

    You might want to rethink AGW denialism as a member of your category.

    For one thing, AGW skeptics are correct. See the Argo data.

    On your main point, there’s no doubt that antisemitism is a function of Christianity. Nothing more.

  13. #13 Liesl
    April 13, 2008

    “The philosophical lineage is starkly apparent…”

    Oh gawd, someone wants to bring philosophy into it. People so often think that philosophy encompasses everything under the sun and using the word “philosophy” will make their argument more powerful since you can’t prove a philosophical thought or concept. Yeah, notsomuch.

    What is this philosophical lineage you speak of? as has already been pointed out, the lineage between Plato and eugenics? How about the lineage between Descartes and eugenics, especially toward developmental disabilities? Really, we could go on and on linking philosophy to historical events, but it does not make it a valid point. Evolution isn’t philosophy.

    Crack open some actual philosophy, will ya? Here, I’ll help: http://tinyurl.com/3pvrkm
    Examine what Russell has to say about the nature of philosophy as opposed to science. What can I say? I’m a giver.

  14. #14 jth
    April 13, 2008

    I am going to play devil’s advocate here. Denialism is a loaded word, and to fling it about carelessly is not much different than flinging around the ‘Hitler’ analogy of Godwin’s law. Carelessly throwing terms around is inappropriate for any serious discussion.

    Holocaust denial is very much an extreme case, because we have victims, survivors, sites, showers that malfunction frequently with fatal results, graves, bodies, photographs, relatives.

    I want to compare this to the loaded phrase ‘gw denial’. To make a comparable situation it would be necessary to change a few details to make the analogy more accurate: Suppose that some people disputed the holocaust at a time when it had not actually been observed. There appeared to besome more or less consistent reports that populations of Jews seemed to be lower in many cities, though even that is subjective since numeric correctionts and estimations had to be made to allow for normal fluctuations in populstion, both movement and birth/death rates. There is a popular theory that the Nazi government is behind this, but no one has yet actually seen a death camp, or for that matter a roundup. Looking at the evidence, it looks like something is going on, and the signs are largely (but not entirely) in the direction that is fully consistent with roundups occurring, but there are, as of yet, no bodies, no death camps. People who dispute this model may ultimately be wrong, but not in the same sense as those we call holocaust deniers.

    Save the term ‘Denialist’ for the ‘Holocaust Deniers’. There are few areas of human endeavor where that analogy accurately fits.

  15. #15 Orac
    April 13, 2008

    You might want to rethink AGW denialism as a member of your category.

    No, actually, I don’t. I’ve thought about it enough over the last year or two.

    For one thing, AGW skeptics are correct.

    No, actually, they aren’t. I say this as someone who was once somewhat of a “skeptic” too.

  16. #16 Orac
    April 13, 2008

    Save the term ‘Denialist’ for the ‘Holocaust Deniers’. There are few areas of human endeavor where that analogy accurately fits.

    Sorry, but the term fits. GW denialists use the same sort of rhetorical tricks and distortions of science favored by other denialists, such as HIV/AIDS denialists, Holocaust deniers, and creationists (evolution deniers), and that’s what I was referring to. True, there’s denialism (AGW) and then there’s denialism (Holocaust denial, but just because one’s considerably more pronounced and vile than the other does not mean that they aren’t both in the same category.

  17. #17 brstpathdoc
    April 13, 2008

    “Actually, that’s the reason why we try to be very careful to distinguish between denialism and legitimate academic differences.”

    I’ll play the devil’s advocate for moment, since you included “anthropogenic global warming denialists” in your cadre of bad guys. Aren’t there at least some legitimate scientists who disagree with the anthropogenic theory of global warming, favoring a cyclical explanation to climate changes? Wouldn’t this, as such, qualify as “legitimate academic differences”? As such, is it fair to us the term “denialist” as opposed to “skeptic”? I don’t really have an ax to grind or an agenda on this subject, but I like to listen to all sides.

  18. #18 brstpathdoc
    April 13, 2008

    Guess I didn’t refresh to read comments before posting. Sorry to be redundant.

  19. #19 Shay
    April 13, 2008

    “On your main point, there’s no doubt that antisemitism is a function of Christianity. Nothing more.”

    Pretty nice example of a logical fallacy there, too.

  20. #20 Ben Gorman
    April 13, 2008

    Orac,

    Look, I’m not calling you a Nazi for the simple reason that it probably isn’t true. But, I will say that Darwinists and yourself employ Nazi-like tactics. Trying constantly to stigmatize and stereotype people who disagree with you; falsely and deliberately mischaracterizing their opinions; failing to engage in honest debate; joining a loudmouth herd mentality in academia, which seeks to squash dissenting views. The list goes on.

    “Holocaust Denial” is such stupid red herring. The Holocaust happened. That’s a historical fact. Ask any GI who liberated Auschwitz. Ask Elie Weisel or other survivors. Ask the founders of the State of Israel.

    So, nobody of any sense denies the historical fact of the Holocaust. That’s just stupid.

    Yet, that is totally different than trying to stigmatize people for their scientific opinions. You do understand the difference between a FACT and an OPINION, I hope. There’s nothing wrong with challenging the scientific opinion that vaccines are efficacious, or that AIDS is caused solely by a retrovirus, or that global warming is purely a man-made phenomenom. Those debates will and should rage for decades.

    The tendency of these strange Darwinist apologists is similar to the Marxist apologists. Marx had some interesting ideas and valid critiques of the free enterprise system. His followers, however, were bizarre, murderous bastards. Darwin had some excellent observations and theories about natural selection. His followers, like Francis Galton, took it way too far.

    So, Yes, the common lineage between Darwin’s Survival of the Fittest was, sadly, transplanted into human and social relations, best exemplified by the Eugenics movement in the US and Nazi Germany. Probably, it still lurks beneath the surface today. And you’re part of it.

  21. #21 Bachalon
    April 13, 2008

    Ok, Gorman, I’ll bite.

    Name one person who labels his or herself an evolutionist today who also is an ardent stalwart of eugenics. Maybe you missed the part where it was pointed out that eugenics didn’t originate with Darwin?

    No one today agrees with that. Strangely enough, the only time I ever see names like that mentioned, or any other bullshit along those lines, is when people like you bring it up. Weird, eh?

  22. #22 Joseph Hertzlinger
    April 13, 2008

    On the one hand, it’s doubtful if Darwinism produced totalitarianism.

    On the other hand, Darwinism might have caused regimes that would have been totalitarian anyway to think of human genes as another thing to fiddle with.

    On the gripping hand, that makes as much sense as blaming Five-Year Plans on Adam Smith.

  23. #23 John S
    April 13, 2008

    Ben:

    An interesting interpretation. The Nazi-like tactics you speak of, presumably you mean sending in the troops when you hear something you don’t like? Demonising the opposition when they don’t say the things you want?

    The science community has always rejected those hypotheses that are considered to be not founded in science. Religion-based hypotheses are not founded in science. ID as a hypothesis is not thus far testable and is not supported by accumulated evidence. It may be invoked to “explain” certain things, but as a hypothesis, it falls short. WAY short.

    It is interesting that you claim victomisation by the big, bad science community, with assorted stigmata (whoops) stigmatised people and opinions. They paint an untrue picture of us, you cry! You accuse scientists of untrue, miss-characterising comments….and you counter it by comparing neo-Darwinism to a pack of ravening Nazis?

    Pot! It’s kettle calling! Something about being black!

    The history of the world is rife with one group of people thinking they are better then another and subsequently engaging in bloody genocide. Evolution is not a critical part of that. Eugenics, although it was a directly inspired spin-off, can hardly be blamed for the massacres that came before it existed. So to with evolution. How can you justify blaming evolution for atrocities like these when, for most of human history they happened before the theory was formulated? Perhaps you should look to religion for a good source of blame, today and yester-year as well.

  24. #24 DuWayne
    April 14, 2008

    On your main point, there’s no doubt that antisemitism is a function of Christianity. Nothing more.

    Because there was no antisemitism before Christianity…I suggest that you check out your history as well. There has been antisemitism virtually as long as there have been Jews.

    Really, it wasn’t until the Church had been firmly established in Rome for well over a century that Christians really came down on the Jews, and that mostly as a response to the persecution that early Christians suffered at the hand of the Jews (not that this is justification mind). After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Church really settled down on their antisemitism. After that it really wasn’t until Luther’s revolution that Christian antisemitism really flared up to a peak again.

    These days, while there are sects that are definitely antisemitic, ecumenicism is generally the rule for Jews, Protestants and Catholics. Most antisemitism I have seen, is not really religious in nature, rather it’s more like racism and anti-gay bigotry. Indeed, the few true antisemites I have met, also got on with racism and homophobic bullshit. The only time they might bring up religion is to inflame Christians to their fight.

  25. #25 DanioPhD
    April 14, 2008

    So there I was channel-surfing, trying to find some Masters coverage, when the face of Charles Darwin flashed by. Backtracking, I stumbled upon “The Coral Ridge Hour”, a Sunday morning evangelical program, which was, today, airing an episode entitled “Darwin’s Deadly Legacy”. Masters all but forgotten, I watched in awe as the Creationist hit parade rolled past–Ken Ham, Jonathan Wells, Michael Behe, Ann Coulter, and a host of others, all making the Darwin-Hitler connection crystal clear for the viewers.
    Some money quotes:
    “The Nazis used the word ‘selection’ in their concentration camps!!!”
    “There is, emphatically, no concrete evidence for evolution”
    “Evolution is a thoroughly discredited scientific theory”
    “The whole theory is a gap”
    “To put it simply, no Darwin; no Hitler.”

    No pussyfooting around the issue for Coral Ridge Ministries. Evidently they’re just a bit further down the road than the fine folks associated with “Expelled”, who merely intercut their film with lots of concentration camp footage and posited that Darwinism was necessary but not sufficient to cause the Holocaust.

    They took it further, of course. The shedding of blood as a result of Darwin’s theory didn’t end with the Holocaust–oh no! Decades of teaching the ToE in schools has resulted in our children becoming perpetrators as well as victims of the Darwinian world view. Flash to footage of the aftermath of the Columbine HS shooting, in which one of the shooters was wearing a t-shirt with “Natural Selection” printed on it. Then, of course, they kicked Planned Parenthood around for a while, too, quote-mining Margaret Sanger (a GERMAN! and a DARWINIST!!!!11111one!) for all she was worth and putting forth eugenics as a principal motivation for abortion, now and forever.

    Every 10 minutes or so, they cut into the gripping plot of Darwin’s Deadly Legacy to invite viewers to send for a petition that advocates ‘Academic Freedom’ in our classrooms (to be sent in with a suggested $30 donation). The parting shot, delivered by minister D. James Kennedy, (standing in front of a laboratory set!) was something like ‘we’ve tried Darwinism for 150 years, and look where it’s gotten us.’

    Frankly, it’s amazing my television is still in one piece. If you’re a glutton for punishment, a link to some excerpts can be found here.

  26. #26 Josh in California
    April 14, 2008

    The tendency of these strange Darwinist apologists is similar to the Marxist apologists. Marx had some interesting ideas and valid critiques of the free enterprise system. His followers, however, were bizarre, murderous bastards. Darwin had some excellent observations and theories about natural selection. His followers, like Francis Galton, took it way too far.

    Orac’s observation about denialists accepting watered-down versions of the facts is spot-on.

    As for the troll, here’s a tip: there are no “followers” in science. Trying to conflate science with religion won’t get you very far here.

  27. #27 Raphael
    April 14, 2008

    “Trying constantly to stigmatize and stereotype people who disagree with you;”

    Examples? And don’t you think that it’s a bit rich to complain about “Trying constantly to stigmatize and stereotype people who disagree with you” inmediately after you accused people who disagree with you of using Nazi-like methods, and telling one of them that he “probably” isn’t a Nazi?

    “falsely and deliberately mischaracterizing their opinions”

    Examples?

    “failing to engage in honest debate”

    Examples?

    “So, nobody of any sense denies the historical fact of the Holocaust. That’s just stupid.”

    Unfortunately, you’re wrong there; in my experience, for every nonsensical idea, there are at least some otherwise sane and intelligent people who support it, and Holocaust denial is no exception.

    “You do understand the difference between a FACT and an OPINION, I hope.”

    I do. And, you know, facts don’t turn into opinions just because you don’t like them. It’s a fact that there are a lot of microorganisms around today that weren’t around in the past. It’s a fact that microwave ovens work. And it’s a fact that there was antisemitism before Darwin and Wallace, wich means that it’s a fact that when you said that antisemitism appeared in the first place because of their ideas, you were wrong.

    By the way, why are so many people on the internet so fond of writing the words “fact” and “facts” in ALL CAPS in texts that are otherwise not in all caps?

    “So, Yes, the common lineage between Darwin’s Survival of the Fittest was, sadly, transplanted into human and social relations, best exemplified by the Eugenics movement in the US and Nazi Germany.”

    Could you back that up for a change,instead of simply asserting it?

    “Probably, it still lurks beneath the surface today. And you’re part of it.”

    And that in a post in wich you’ve accused others of “Trying constantly to stigmatize and stereotype people who disagree with you” and “falsely and deliberately mischaracterizing their opinions”.

    This is a bit nitpicky, so I didn’t start out with it:

    “Ask any GI who liberated Auschwitz”

    And *you* tell others to crack open a history book. Purr-lease.

  28. #28 Jud
    April 14, 2008

    Ben:

    The Nazis used algebra to calculate V2 trajectories. And this has exactly what effect on the validity of algebra as mathematics?

    Misguided people in favor of eugenics have tried to analogize to natural selection and “survival of the fittest.” And this has exactly what effect on the validity of natural selection as science?

  29. #29 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 14, 2008

    Trying constantly to stigmatize and stereotype people who disagree with you; falsely and deliberately mischaracterizing their opinions; failing to engage in honest debate; joining a loudmouth herd mentality in academia, which seeks to squash dissenting views. The list goes on.

    To reiterate previous comments, you must provide examples of this or be considered another member of the self perceived persecution complex group. If you really did your homework you’d know this was far from the truth.

  30. #30 Laser Potato
    April 14, 2008

    I predict that if Ben responds at all, he’ll shift the burden of proof. Namely, he’ll be asking us to prove a negative.

  31. #31 SLC
    April 14, 2008

    Re Ben Gorman

    “Ask any GI who liberated Auschwitz”

    Excuse me, Auschwitz was in Poland. The GIs never got to Poland.

  32. #32 SLC
    April 14, 2008

    Re brstpathdoc

    “Aren’t there at least some legitimate scientists who disagree with the anthropogenic theory of global warming, favoring a cyclical explanation to climate changes?”

    Yes there are. Unfortunately, all too many of them receive funding from energy companies like Exxon who have a vested interest in denying global climate change as it could affect their bottom lines. Examples, Fred Singer and Pat Michaels of UVA. There are also other “scientists” associated with such energy company funded organizations as the George Marshall Foundation, which have been set up for the sole purpose of pretending that non-existent scientific controversies exist. See Chris Mooneys book, ‘The Republican War on Science.” The approach of the energy companies is the same as the approach of the tobacco companies was relative to smoking and lung cancer.

  33. #33 Jesse
    April 14, 2008

    Yes, the common lineage between Darwin’s Survival of the Fittest was, sadly, transplanted into human and social relations, best exemplified by the Eugenics movement in the US and Nazi Germany.

    Prove this. Show us EXACTLY where there is undeniable evidence of parallels between what evolution is (survival of the fittest through passage of advantageous genetic traits) and eugenics. Show us the references. The notebooks from the concentration camp doctors (*shudder*) where, in detail, the tenets of evolution are linked to the ‘science’ (again, *shudder*) of eugenics.

    You’re as full of crap as the intellectually and morally bankrupt people behind Expelled

  34. #34 Thomas Kerr
    April 15, 2008

    Kind of ironic that people can post on this blog with out fear of being kicked off just for presenting their views. (Hmmm… at least time will tell on that one) The point of the documentary focuses on people being fired for intellectual intolerance based on a point of view. There can be intolerance on both sides. It is just that Darwinists are in the positions of power and use it to quash any dissent without mercy. I am sure if the positions were reversed there would be the same thing with creationists. So my question is where do you find the middle ground?

  35. #35 Colugo
    April 15, 2008

    First, let’s make a distinction between the larger eugenics movement and Nazi biopolitics, which involved an extreme form of eugenics but included more than eugenics.

    Second, let’s distinguish between eugenics, Social Darwinism, and scientific racism. And then separate the different sociopolitical imperatives that appeared under the rubric of what is now called Social Darwinism and how they related to industrialization, colonialism, and competition between major powers.

    Third, consider the various policies that were part of the eugenics toolkit, and between positive vs negative as well as coercive vs voluntary.

    Fourth, distinguish between Darwin’s own ideas, those of his peers and early followers, those applying solely to biology versus speculations about human society, non-Darwinian early evolutionary ideas, and most importantly, the difference between early evolutionary biology and contemporary evolutionary biology. Note the multiplicity of views that were purportedly supported by Darwinism: feminism, patriarchy, warmongering, pacifism etc. In addition, there are entire theoretical evolutionary approaches that have been largely forgotten, such as social organicism.

    Fifth, consider pre-Darwinian precursors to all of these ideas and how they were transformed or re-conceptualized under early Darwinism.

    The point is, some or all of these things get slurried together and conflated, not just by creationists but also by anti-creationists.

    In fact, the eugenics movement had a lot to do with early Darwinism, if by the latter we are referring to a body of ideas of not only Darwin but also his followers and their social as well as biological implications. That does not mean that Darwinism was the sole determinant of the eugenics movement, even less that “Darwinism lead to Auschwitz.” It certainly does not mean that eugenics is a valid derivation of our contemporary understanding of evolutionary biology. (Yet even today, there are fringe hereditarians – some of them tenured – who would argue with this.)

    Many also fail to appreciate the difference between influence, determination, and rationale.

    Also, many people are not interested in the complexity of these movements and how this relates to the history of scientific ideas. Rather, we get simplistic bullet points. (“Hitler was a devout Catholic!” “Hitler was a Darwinist!” and so on.)

  36. #36 Bronze Dog
    April 16, 2008

    It is just that Darwinists are in the positions of power and use it to quash any dissent without mercy.

    You do realize that all the examples they give involve a lot more than just the alleged martyr’s position on the issue. Lot of them get flunked for lack of effort, lack of publication, and gross signs of unscientific thinking. When someone starts taking on the ID mantle, their scientific output tends to plummet. They typically stop conducting experiments, performing studies, and getting grants, and instead publish political fluff pieces that are nearly plagiarisms of Creationists from 150 years ago. ID is a dead field, just like parapsychology.

    ID is grossly unscientific in my view: “I don’t know, therefore a magic man done it.” Can you imagine a college of physics giving tenure someone who writes empty rhetoric about cold fusion? Or a college of astronomy giving tenure to someone who rants and raves about alien spacecraft and moon landing hoaxes? That’s the sort of company ID falls into. If they’d bother producing evidence, instead of wasting money producing public relations rhetoric and propaganda, they might be able to move beyond word games and fallacies. So far, there’s no evidence at all for ID that isn’t more easily explained by evolution.

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