Respectful Insolence

I knew there was a reason why I like bioethicist Art Caplan.

Leave it to him not to be afraid not only to wander a bit afield of medicine than usual but also to call it as he sees it, mainly his argument for why Expelled! and its claim that “Darwinism” led directly to the Holocaust is not only historically incorrect but a form of Holocaust denial. I don’t quite agree with him, but he makes a compelling argument:

The movie seeks to explain why, as a matter of freedom of speech, intelligent design should be taught in America’s science classrooms and presented in America’s publicly funded science museums. But what is really on display in this film is a toxic mishmash of persecution fantasies, disconnected and inappropriate references to fallen communist regimes and their leaders and a very repugnant form of Holocaust denial from the monotone big mouth Ben Stein.

Caplan explains:

The core of the movie consists of a sequence in which Stein visits the former German psychiatric hospital at Hadamar where the mass sterilization and murder techniques were first perfected that were later to be used in the concentration camps. Then Ben heads to Dachau, the first concentration camp, where 35,000 people died. These excursions are followed by a visit to Down House, Charles Darwin’s country home outside of London where Ben looks warily at the memorabilia of Darwin’s scientific work that led him to posit the theory of evolution. Stein finishes this sequence by bravely visiting a statue of Darwin where he stares the long deceased now marbleized evil-doer down while making it clear who is directly to blame for Hitler, the sterilization of tens of thousands of German children, the death of 6 million Jews and the deaths of countless other millions of victims of Nazism and those who died fighting the Nazi regime.

This frighteningly immoral narrative is capped off with a lot of shots of the Berlin Wall, old stock footage of East German police kicking around those trying to escape through the wall to the West and some solemn blather by Ben, who calls upon each one of us to rise up in defense of freedom and knock down a few walls in order to get creationism back into the curriculum at Iowa State, Baylor, and other dens of American secular iniquity.

This is the core of what is ethically rotten about this movie. Darwinism did not lead to Nazism in Germany. Nor does Darwinism inherently contain the seeds of Nazism.

There were many nations, such as Brazil, where Darwinism led to no political ideology. There were some such as Britain which embraced Darwinism but saw a considerable number of their population killed trying to eliminate Nazism. There were other nations, such as the Soviet Union, where Darwinism was seen as so dangerous and subversive to state sponsored dreams of social engineering that those who espoused it were killed or exiled and a complete biological fairy tale, Lysenkoism, put into classrooms and agricultural policy ultimately leading to the deaths of millions from starvation.

And there were some nations where Darwinism was greeted with glee because it seemed so compatible with the prevailing ideology of the day. In particular the United States at the turn of the 20th century where robber-baron capitalists like the Carnegies, Mellons, Sumners, Stanfords and yes, even Jack London, could not stop rattling on about how the “survival of the fittest” justified crushing unions, exploiting immigrant labor or being left unregulated to amass huge fortunes while administering monopolies.

Ben Stein apparently understands none of this. He flags Darwin but does not bother to go and stare at the busts of Adam Smith, Herbert Spencer, Ernst Haeckel, Thomas Malthus so much beloved by American proponents of survival of the fittest.

[...]

To lay blame for the Holocaust upon Charles Darwin is to engage in a form of Holocaust denial that should forever make Ben Stein the subject of scorn not because of his nudnik concern that evolution somehow undermines morality but because in this contemptible movie he is willing to subvert the key reason why the Holocaust took place — racism — to serve his own ideological end. Expelled indeed.

Read the whole thing.

Sadly, Ben Stein’s not alone. David Klinghoffer, fellow at the Discovery Institute, recently dropped this drippy, stinking turd about the supposed connection between “Darwinism” and the Holocaust that is so despicable, so outrageous, that it’s hard for me even to write about it as he begins with a single sentence:

Hitler understood something about Judaism that even many Jews today don’t grasp.

I mention this because you’re soon going to be hearing a lot about a new movie, Expelled, which understands something about Hitler that, in turn, many Jews and non-Jews don’t or don’t want to understand.

I want you to stop and think about that for a moment. I have seen this very sentiment expressed on many a white supremacist website: That Hitler understood something about the Jews and Judaism that no one else, not even the Jews, did. Does Klinghoffer even know or care what Hitler “understood” about Judaism and the Jews? Here’s a sampling of what Hitler “understood” about the Jews. To Hitler, the Jews were a “cancer” or an “infection” that had to be extirpated from the German nation. He “understood” them to be greedy bankers who controlled the money supply, strangling Germany economically; to be “depraved” and responsible for what he saw as the “degeneration” of German culture during the Weimar Republic; and as completely alien to German culture. In short, Hitler “understood” Jews and Judaism as nothing more than an implacable enemy of Germany that must be removed by any means necessary and/or destroyed utterly. What he “understood” about Judaism was in essence The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as justification for what he saw as pre-emptive genocide to purify the German volk of what he viewed as a malign influence that would destroy it.

That’s what Hitler “understood” about the Jews and Judaism.

Come to think of it, Ben Stein and the makers of Expelled!, not to mention Klinghoffer, understand evolution about as well as Hitler understood Judaism. The rest of his vile article is argument enough for this point.

So what was it that Hitler supposedly “understood” about the Judaism that even the Jews don’t understand, according to Klinghoffer? I almost can’t read this without wanting to vomit, but this is what Klinghoffer argues:

A gentle soul, Darwin himself never advocated genocide. But in The Descent of Man, he predicted that the logic of natural selection made inevitable something like what Hitler attempted against the Jews:

“At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races.”

What you would not readily foresee from reading Darwin’s writings is that the race requiring extermination would turn out to be us Jews. But Hitler perceived an inner logic in Darwinism that even Charles Darwin didn’t.

In the same chapter of Mein Kampf where the Darwinist flavor is most pronounced – Chapter XI, “Nation and Race” – Hitler comments that while his philosophical outlook is based on respecting Nature’s laws, the Jews with their “effrontery” say the opposite: that “Man’s role is to overcome Nature!”

Hitler notes with disgust that, “Millions thoughtlessly parrot this Jewish nonsense and end up by really imagining that they themselves represent a kind of conqueror of Nature.”

There is, in other words, a Darwinian case for seeing the Jews as the ultimate Enemy. Darwin’s portrait of reality in his books is one where Nature determines all. In The Descent of Man, he explains that even our morality is a product of natural selection just like everything else about us.

The Jews, Hitler wrote, defy nature and call others to do so. This is the characteristic “Jewish nonsense.”

This doesn’t even make sense on a most superficial level. Hitler tried to exterminate the Jews because they had the effrontery to believe that “Man’s role is to overcome nature”? That’s a belief that is not just based in Judaism; Christian doctrine is based on Judaism, and the line about “giving Man dominion” over nature is far more likely to be cited by a Christian than Jews. There’s also more than ample evidence to link the anti-Semitism that drove Hitler to mass murder on an industrial scale to Christian beliefs. (Read some of Martin Luther’s thoughts on the Jews sometime. They aren’t pretty.) Just because Hitler used the supposedly Jewish desire to “dominate nature” as one of his justifications for exterminating the Jews does not mean that he had any insight into biology or “nature’s laws.” In fact, Hitler’s understanding of how “nature” works is most definitely as flawed as that of any creationist, as a wider quoting of the chapter of Mein Kampf to which Klinghoffer refers readily demonstrates:

Thus men without exception wander about in the garden of Nature; they imagine that they know practically everything and yet with few exceptions pass blindly by one of the most patent principles of Nature’s rule: the inner segregation of the species of all living beings on this earth.

Even the most superficial observation shows that Nature’s restricted form of propagation and increase is an almost rigid basic law of all the innumerable forms of expression of her vital urge. Every animal mates only with a member of the same species. The titmouse seeks the titmouse, the finch the finch, the stork the stork, the field mouse the field mouse, the dormouse the dormouse, the wolf the she-wolf, etc.
Only unusual circumstances can change this, primarily the compulsion of captivity or any other cause that makes it impossible to mate within the same species. But then Nature begins to resist this with all possible means, and her most visible protest consists either in refusing further capacity for propagation to bastards or in limiting the fertility of later offspring; in most cases, however, she takes away the power of resistance to disease or hostile attacks.

No wonder creationists like to quote Hitler so much to try to smear their hated “Darwinism” with the association. Hitler’s understanding of biology was as bad as theirs. I trust that anyone with a knowledge of biology and evolution can spot the ignorance of biology, evolution, and, yes, even “Darwinism” in the above passage. Nothing in “Darwinism” claims that members of different species must mate with each other, and Hitler seems hopelessly confused about the definition of “species,” confusing it with race. Indeed, Hitler seems to conflate the two, as the next passage clearly shows:

Any crossing of two beings not at exactly the same level produces a medium between the level of the two parents. This means: the offspring will probably stand higher than the racially lower parent, but not as high as the higher one. Consequently, it will later succumb in the struggle against the higher level. Such mating is contrary to the will of Nature for a higher breeding of all life. The precondition for this does not lie in associating superior and inferior, but in the total victory of the former. The stronger must dominate and not blend with the weaker, thus sacrificing his own greatness. Only the born weakling can view this as cruel, but he after all is only a weak and limited man; for if this law did not prevail, any conceivable higher development of organic living beings would be unthinkable.

The consequence of this racial purity, universally valid in Nature, is not only the sharp outward delimitation of the various races, but their uniform character in themselves. The fox is always a fox, the goose a goose, the tiger a tiger, etc., and the difference can lie at most in the varying measure of force, strength, intelligence, dexterity, endurance, etc., of the individual specimens. But you will never find a fox who in his inner attitude might, for example, show humanitarian tendencies toward geese, as similarly there is no cat with a friendly inclination toward mice.

Later in that same chapter, Hitler writes at great, pontificating length (as was his habit) about how the “Aryan” race is the “founder of culture” and superior, another conclusion that nothing in “Darwinism” leads to. In any event, nothing in evolutionary theory makes a value judgment of what is “superior” or “inferior.” There are only traits that make an organism more adapted or less adapted to survive in its environment. These do not have to be strength, intelligence, dexterity, or endurance. None of these traits are inherently “superior” or “inferior” either. A trait that makes an organism less likely to survive in one environment could just as well be advantageous in a different environment. In other words, Hitler had no clue about how evolution works, and, as I’ve been saying all along, there is nothing inherent in Darwin’s theory that demands genocide or eugenics. Rather, it is the twisted interpretations of individuals like Hitler that inferred genocide and eugenics from Darwin’s theory when neither are inevitable consequences of it. Indeed, even if they were, it would not invalidate the scientific validity of evolutionary theory any more than the atom bomb invalidates quantum theory or Einstein’s theory of relativity that made its development possible or that Hitler liked to invoke Robert Koch and Louis Pasteur as a justification for his Jew-hatred invalidates the germ theory of disease.

Reading over Klinghoffer’s mind-bogglingly stupid and offensive attempt to link Darwinism and the Holocaust, I can’t help but wonder if it’s in reality an incredibly clever satire of the creationist love of argumentum ad Nazium with respect to evolution, but then I remember that it’s a Discovery Institute fellow I’m talking about. His writings are so brain-dead that they can’t be parodied without being mistaken for the real thing, according to Poe’s Law. Between Ben Stein and David Klinghoffer, the stupid burns so brightly that it threatens to go supernova, obliterating the entire solar system. Truly, no Stupid-O-Meter can be set high enough to match what this not-so-dynamic duo of intellectual dishonesty can achieve without breaking a sweat.

Coming back to Art Caplan’s arguments, although I agree with him that this dishonest constant attempt by creationists to paint Hitler as an inevitable consequence of Darwinism is a lie and inherently immoral in its intent and content, I’m not sure I’d go so far as to characterize it as “Holocaust denial.” It is true that by blaming Darwin Klinghoffer, Stein, and their ilk are in essence denying the true causes of the Holocaust, but they do not deny that the Holocaust happened or attempt to minimize the death toll, as real Holocaust deniers do. There’s a substantive difference between the two, and equating them actually weakens Caplan’s argument. Indeed, Stein and Klinghoffer would probably have preferred it if even more people had died at Hitler’s hands during the Holocaust. A higher death toll would have provided them with just that many more murdered victims that they could dishonestly place at Charles Darwin’s doorstep.

Comments

  1. #1 Bob O'H
    April 23, 2008

    If I’m reading this right, Klinghoffer is suggesting that the Jews are one of the “savage races” (or why else would this be the “inner logic in Darwinism”?). Either he doesn’t understand his own argument, or the DI has an anti-semitic Jew on their books. This would be funny if it wasn’t so awful, particularly in the context of discussing Hitler.

  2. #2 Liesl
    April 23, 2008

    Ooooh, that’s a huge leap that isn’t logically justified. He kind of tacks on the holocaust denialism at the end, almost as if he wants to pound a final nail in a point that was already well stated and argued. But the tacking on of it does more to harm his correct assessments of the movie and thinking behind it than anything else. Denying that a thing happened and denying that it happened for other reasons are two very, very different things. It’s unfortunate because the article was quite interesting and another excellent call to reason in the wasteland that is intelligent design.

  3. #3 Christophe Thill
    April 23, 2008

    “In any event, nothing in evolutionary theory makes a value judgment of what is “superior” or “inferior.” ”

    And Darwin himself scribbled in one of his his notebooks, that he should be careful never to use the words “superior” and “inferior”.

  4. #4 cee
    April 23, 2008

    Again, the simple truth that many leading Darwinists in the early 20th Century promoted infanticide and involuntary euthanasia, as well as racial extermination seems to be lost on those who want to deny any link between Darwin’s conclusions on how natural selection applies to human populations and the justifications used by the Nazi’s for their actions.

    Richard Weikart mentions several ethicists who liked to use Darwinism as an ethical framework. Great thinkers like Bartholomäus von Carneri, Friedrich Hellwald, Wilhelm Schallmayer, Alfred Ploetz, August Forel, Eugen Fischer, Fritz Lenz, and Theodor Fritsch.

    In the last thread I was bombarded with “coincidence” to explain how science has advanced in the last 200 years and the decline of the belief in God by scientists. Now I see coincidence has no place in the argument.

    You know, a great new idea came out prior to the development of people leading millions in the first half od the 20th Century. That idea discussed the extermination of groups (species) based on pressures dealing with resources, populations and competition. Interest in that theory and how it applied to mankind and an increase in academic activity on eugenics just did not have an influence in Nazi Germany.

    My goodness, the ideologues are up in arms. The application of Darwinian theory on a population seems to disturb the true believers. The cynic’s application of the cynicism seems selective based on where the argument is heading. Like I mentioned in another post, the road to nihilism starts somewhere and many see Darwinism and atheism as one such logical place.

    I await the FLAMES!

  5. #5 windy
    April 23, 2008

    Nothing in “Darwinism” claims that members of different species must mate with each other

    Shouldn’t that be “must not”? (the above is true as well, but doesn’t match the Hitler quote)

  6. #6 Anthony McCarthy
    April 23, 2008

    I hope, seeing that Caplan uses it, just like Darwinists have since the 1860s, that no one is going to bring up the phony gambit that “only creationists use the word ‘Darwinism’ again. Though, since even citing Darwinists use of it from T. Huxley to Richard Dawkins has made an impace to this piece of Sci-blog erudition, that’s hoping for a lot.

  7. #7 Anthony McCarthy
    April 23, 2008

    Just changed glasses, make that

    Though, since even citing Darwinists’ use of it from T. Huxley to Richard Dawkins hasn’t made an impact to this piece of Sci-blog erudition, that’s hoping for a lot.

  8. #8 Orac
    April 23, 2008

    I hope, seeing that Caplan uses it, just like Darwinists have since the 1860s, that no one is going to bring up the phony gambit that “only creationists use the word ‘Darwinism’ again.

    Straw man.

    It’s not that “only” creationists use the term “Darwinism.” It’s just that very few evolutionary biologists use the term anymore, Dawkins being an exception and that creationists do fetishize the term because it allows them to paint evolutionary theory as an ideology (like “Marxism,” for example) rather than science. I would also point out that Caplan is not an evolutionary biologist.

  9. #9 Anthony McCarthy
    April 23, 2008

    Orac, it’s not a straw man, it’s the way every
    English dictionary I looked defines the word. The charge of covert-creationism made when I used this perfectly standard English word in a pro-evolution post was the straw man. It’s a gambit to avoid joining in an argument, just like the word “straw man” and “quote mining” generally is.

    So, Richard Dawins’ use of “Darwinism”, as in the note I sent you the other day, doesn’t count? I sent you other contemporary use of the word by another Darwinist. I seem to recall it used by Daniel Dennett and many others.

    It doesn’t help the effort to promote evolutionary science to distort everything from the historical record down to the dictionary in polemics over the mythic reputation of Charles Darwin.

  10. #10 Orac
    April 23, 2008

    Dictionaries define “theory” as not much more than a hunch; that does not mean that’s what the word means in science. Citing dictionary meanings of words in arguments about science is generally the last refuge of someone defending a weak argument.

  11. #11 Colugo
    April 23, 2008

    No, Expelled’s “Darwin caused the Holocaust” thesis is not Holocaust denial. Only Holocaust denial is Holocaust denial.

    There are many ideas about why Nazis perpetrated a genocide of the Jews. These range from obvious to plausible to dismissable to risible. Many of these are mutually compatible, part of a larger explanation.

    I have given a lot of thought to why the Holocaust happened. That does not make me an expert to whom anyone should defer. But I have taken this seriously, and read a number of historical treatments and (translated) primary sources.

    I am troubled by how the Holocaust has become a political weapon for contemporary debates. Intelligent Design. Global warming (Goodman’s global warming denial is morally equivalent to Holocaust denial). Liberal fascism. American fascism (Hedges et al.). These politicized treatments often have a simplistic, sometimes monocausal theory of what the Nazis were about and why the Holocaust happened.

    The Holocaust had a great deal to do with centuries-old Christian antisemitism. But it was not entirely about Christian antisemitism, as some SciBlogs commenters have implied on various threads. Is asserting that the Holocaust was simply about Christian antisemitism and nothing more yet another form of Holocaust denial? Of course not. The fact is that all sides have been oversimplifying the complex historical reality.

    It is true that the Holocaust was not caused by Darwinism. It is also wrong to say that the Holocaust had absolutely NOTHING to do with Darwinism. I hate to give aid and comfort to the insufferable cee and other creationists, but the truth is the truth.

    One thing that made the Holocaust different from previous mass murders of European Jews was that antisemitism had been biologicized. The Jews were not simply deniers of Christ but an enemy race that was a threat to Aryan stock. But even this is not entirely to crude applications of Darwinism to social affairs (Social Darwinism). For one thing, most American eugenicists were not antisemites, or at least not close to the degree that Nazis were.

    There is a lot of discussion about how Hitler referred to germ theory, but little on how this relates to social organicism, which had been developed by Spencer and Haeckel as elaborations of evolutionary theory.

    Michael Shermer acknowledges the role of Ernst Haeckel in the formation of Nazi biopolitics. By the way, it is overly simplistic to state that the Nazis banned Haeckel and leave the matter at that. In fact, while the Monist League was banned, an Ernst Haeckel Society was formed under SS auspices. While works of Darwin were banned, some believing Nazi scientists made contributions to the then-new Modern Synthesis. But like everything about Nazism, the story of Nazi biopolitics has been immensely simplified in the service of one agenda or another.

    And it should be emphasized that Hitler was not the sole figure behind the Holocaust; many medical doctors and biologists were architects of the Final Solution. Their views, not just Hitler’s, matter. And not an insignificant number of them were trained in the tradition of Darwin, Galton, and Haeckel, and they believed that their eugenics sounded rested on evolutionary science.

    I also note that part of Hitler’s discussion about breeding between species and races in Mein Kampf is this:

    “If Nature does not wish that weaker individuals should mate with the stronger, she wishes even less that a superior race should intermingle with an inferior one; because in such a case all her efforts, throughout hundreds of thousands of years, to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being, may thus be rendered futile.”

    Surely there is disagreement over the implications of that statement.

    We know for a fact that Hitler read and was inspired by Madison Grant’s Passing of the Great Race (he called it his “Bible”) and Baur, Fischer, and Lenz’s Human Heredity. These books are steeped in Galtonian eugenic reasoning. (If you want to say that Galton had nothing to do with Darwin, that’s yet another argument. Grant cites Descent of Man several times.) I have studied an American edition of BFL.

    The creationists have dumbed down and grievously distorted historical truth in order to serve their ideological agenda. But we ought not fight error with error. Nor should the charge of Holocaust denial be used against what is not Holocaust denial, however egregious or offensive it is.

    Something has happened to the discourse on the pro-science, pro-evolution side. It used to be “Eugenicists and Social Darwinists perverted evolutionary biology, and the Nazis were eugenicists and Social Darwinists as well as being in the tradition of Christian antisemitism.” Now the dominant narrative seems to be “The Nazis had nothing to do with Darwinism. Period.”

  12. #12 cee
    April 23, 2008

    I am wondering where this magic vacuum “space” is that seperates science from all other disciplines. I really want to find it so that I may enter the fairytale world Art Caplan lives and be content to know that humanity need not worry about technological advancement leading to immoral actions.

  13. #13 cee
    April 23, 2008

    As a Jew, I find it interesting that those who want to only deny the Nazi’s application of Darwinian theory to my family overlook the more striking connection to “unfit” individuals like the old, mentally ill, severely disabled, etc..

    Oh my, how convenient that the usual anti-Semitism I see from elite academia is put aside for the rational discussion (I sense some politcal correctness) but physically inferior beings selected for extermination (Darwin’s word) by the Nazis are overlooked in the analysis.

    Should I be comforted?

  14. #14 Colugo
    April 23, 2008

    OK, cee, as an atheistic half-Jew (me) to a Jew, what is your view of the role of centuries of European Christian antisemitism, including mass immolation, in the Holocaust? Or are you just going to rail against “Darwinism”?

  15. #15 Arthur Caplan
    April 23, 2008

    I stand by my claim that attributing the Holocaust to Darwinism is a gross and disgusting form of Holocaust denial. If you say that 6 million Jews died, not from racism and bigotry, but because of a plan to implement Darwinism, then you blur the ethical offense of the Holocaust and, in Stein’s case, deliberately so.

    Holocaust denial is not just about did an event happen or not. It is crucial to know why the Holocaust happened. And we do know–racism. To imply, suggest or pronounce other causes is to deny what happened just as surely as to say no one was killed in the concentration camps. History encompasses both events and their causes.
    Denial is to ignore both.

    Expelled is a vicious form of Holocaust denial.

  16. #16 gerald spezio
    April 23, 2008

    There is only one true Holocaust, as there is only one true God.

    Ben Stein is a trained lawyer who connects Darwin to the only true Holocaust, but possibly connects incorrectly.

    Ben Stein has never connected Jesus-of-Nazareth to the Holocaust, or claimed that Jesus or the Holy Ghost caused the Holocaust.

    Claims that Ben Stein attacked Jesus are false.

    Art Caplan re-frames Ben Stein as a Holocaust Denier for incorrectly connecting Darwinism to the Holocaust.

    Hitler incorrectly connected Darwinism to his visions of a coming Holocaust, and Ben Stein is correct in making the Hitler connection but not the Darwinian connection.

    It is true that Joseph Goebbels earned a doctorate in history, but turned to framing science before he died.

    Whether or not Darwinism caused the only true Holocaust has not been settled in a court of law.

    Whether-or-not Darwinisn caused the Armenian genocide is problematic.

    But it remains logically true that the Armenian genocide can’t be called a Holocaust because there is only one true Holocaust, as there is only one true God.

    There is no Holocaust occurring to the Palestinain people in Gaza because there is only true Holocaust.

    One million people murdered in Iraq cannot be called a Holocaust because there is only one true Holocaust.

    Norman Finkelstein is the worst Holocaust denier of all.

    Jimmy Carter denies the Holocaust when he talks with Hamas.

    The procession of the Holy Ghost remains problematic.

  17. #17 Colugo
    April 23, 2008

    Shut up, Spezio.

    Arthur Caplan: “And we do know–racism. To imply, suggest or pronounce other causes is to deny what happened just as surely as to say no one was killed in the concentration camps.”

    What about additional or complementary causes?

    Is it Holocaust denial to cite a longstanding pattern of economic scapegoating of Jews – some of which done by those who did not view Jews as a separate race – as a cause of the Holocaust?

    Some foundational German racial hygienists were not antisemitic at all, yet their research and policy prescriptions became part of Nazi biopolicy. Did these eugenicists have nothing to do with the Holocaust?

    And let’s unpack “racism.” There are genetic, vitalistic, and spiritual notions of race and hence manifestations of racist ideology. There was a variety of approaches to race in German fascism before Nazism became the dominant strain. A spiritual racist/antisemite might argue that it is possible for a Jew or half-Jew to have an Aryan “soul,” an impossibility under a mainly genetically-based racism.

    And simply invoking racism cannot provide the sole explanation, because Nazis also viewed Slavs as an inferior race, but one that should be subjugated rather than wiped off the earth. Why were Jews deemed so threatening? For the answer, we need to look at notions of social organicism and even more specifically at the idea of social parasitism – which combined economic and biological antisemitism.

    Why did so many Germans, including non-Nazis, comply with and aid in the Holocaust? It wasn’t just hatred of the Jews, but profiting from their plunder, as Gotz Aly and other historians have recently discussed.

    Are you going to call me a Holocaust denier?

  18. #18 Anthony McCarthy
    April 23, 2008

    Citing dictionary meanings of words in arguments about science is generally the last refuge of someone defending a weak argument./i

    Orac, denying the use of the dictionary doesn’t do anything to strengthen your argument, especially since I also gave you the etymology and contemporary use of the word by today’s most famous Darwinist of them all and another authority.

    Huxley’s fourth review of Darwin’s book, The Origin of Species appeared in the April 1860 issue of the Westminster Review. Coining the word “Darwinism” as it is still used today in this review (it had been used before with regard to the work of Erasmus Darwin),

    Huxley’s fourth review of Darwin’s book, The Origin of Species appeared in the April 1860 issue of the Westminster Review. Coining the word “Darwinism” as it is still used today in this review (it had been used before with regard to the work of Erasmus Darwin)

    http://aleph0.clarku.edu/huxley/guide4.html

    - This book is not a dispassionate scientific treatise. Other books on Darwinism are, and many of them are excellent and informative and should be read in conjunction with this one.

    - More, I want to persuade the reader, not just that the Darwinian world-view happens to be true, but that it is the only known theory that could, in principle, solve the mystery of our existence. This makes it a doubly satisfying theory. A good case can be made that Darwinism is true, not just on this planet but all over the universe, wherever life may be found.

    - What the ‘punctuationists’ did, when they first proposed their theory, was to ask themselves: Given that, like most neo-Darwinians, we accept the orthodox theory that speciation starts with geographical isolation, what should we expect to see in the fossil record?

    http://www.simonyi.ox.ac.uk/dawkins/WorldOfDawkins-archive/Dawkins/Work/Books/blind.shtml

    Mainline eugenics can be understood as the product of the first meeting of Darwinism and medicine: the realization that evolution is ongoing, and the emerging concern that the human evolutionary process be rationalized and guided by the ideal of progress, and the human stock protected from harm.

    http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~ucbtdag/bioethics/writings/eugenics.html

    Darwin deserves the truth be told about him, he doesn’t deserve distortion of history or the meaning of the English language.

  19. #19 gerald spezio
    April 23, 2008

    Ben Stein knows how to market a brand.

  20. #20 phantomreader42
    April 23, 2008

    Through most of this debacle, I’ve thought that treating the Holocaust as nothing more than ammo for a cheap attack on science is at best one step up from Holocaust denial. It’s defiling the graves of millions of victims for political gain. Truly despicable, and any human being should be ashamed of it. But Stein, who is Jewish, should be even MORE ashamed. He should know better. Can you get any lower than a JEWISH Holocaust denier?

  21. #21 gerald spezio
    April 23, 2008

    Israel demands that Jimmy Carter “shut up” and get out of Palestine.

    Condi Rice says: “We told Carter not to talk to Hamas.”

    Israel is committed to get the Palestinians’ land by using genocidal “ethics.”

    Ethics is ethics.

  22. #22 Spaulding
    April 23, 2008

    Colugo, some thoughts:

    Thank you for mentioning the economic motivators for the rise of Naziism, as they’re important and have largely been lost in this ongoing discussion. The wake of WWI left Germany economically crippled, and with injured national pride. The population was primed for a belligerant nationalist to rail against a scapegoat group. Luckily, the world learned lessons from this, and economic reconstruction of defeated nations was emphasized more after WWII than WWI.

    Your earlier post suggests that since some Nazis used language appropriated from Darwin, that understanding of natural selection had some causal role. The first problem with this statement is that it confuses natural selection with artificial selection. Artificial selection is a millennia-old concept, and it’s what Nazis and other eugenicists proposed.

    The second problem is that the language used as a post-hoc justification for something is not necessarily a reliable indicator of actual cause. E.g.: Phrenology was a pseudoscience used to rationalize prejudice based on race and ethnicity, but one could hardly claim that it was the origin of such prejudice. Likewise, when people spout off half-baked mishmashes of Darwinian buzzwords to back up their antisemitism, their persecution fantasies, their religious dogma, their utopian dreams, or whatever; then it’s not a result of science, it’s a fallacious, post-hoc appeal to authority.

    Of course, there were scientists and doctors and politicians in the USA and across Europe who supported eugenics, which should be a cautionary note.

  23. #23 gerald spezio
    April 23, 2008

    Spaulding, the Israelis have been practicing artificial selection against the Palestinians for sixty years.

    But I never see the term anti-Palestinianism.

  24. #24 Spaulding
    April 23, 2008

    Shorter version:
    People can play dress-up in mommy’s labcoat while they say all kinds of ignorant, hateful crap – but that doesn’t mean it’s science’s fault.

  25. #25 gerald spezio
    April 23, 2008

    When marketing a brand, there is publicity and more publicity.

    Johnnie Cochran invoked the Hitler frame with great success.

    Ben Stein knows his courtroom framing.

    Ben was valedictorian of his Yale Law School class.

    Ben is successfully marketing the Holocaust by careful design – with science and Darwin as his vehicle.

    Israel is giving the Palestinians a terrific dose of Holocaust studies too, but hardly anybody appears to know it.

    Where is the UN or the US when Israel commits genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza?

    As bad as it is, Ben Stein’s propaganda can’t hold a candle to the outright murder of Palestinians held in an Israeli Concentration Camp in Gaza.

  26. #26 Robster, FCD
    April 23, 2008

    cee, do you refuse to accept the germ theory of disease because Hitler lifted phrases and terms from it to justify his hatred?

  27. #27 gerald spezio
    April 23, 2008

    Ben Stein was just a tyke without a law degree when Holden Caulfield warned us;
    “The movies will kill ya – they really will.”

  28. #28 Mike P
    April 23, 2008

    Christ, Spezio, do you know what a paragraph is?

  29. #29 The Christian Cynic
    April 23, 2008

    I haven’t seen Expelled, nor am I in a place to defend it because I’m skeptical of the benefit to the whole debate/culture war, but I think this claim is patently absurd unless “Holocaust denial” means something other than “denying the Holocaust actually occurred.” If it doesn’t, then the claim is just plain wrong since I have yet to see genuine evidence that Stein really believes that the Holocaust did not occur (and plenty of evidence that he does, such as the scene where he goes to Dachau). If it does, then the phrase needs to be unpacked, and it’s still very misleading to use without explicitly stating what one means by it. In my opinion, it’s a sneaky rhetorical tool to try and call Stein something that verges on defamation (I say “verges” only because of the verbiage “a form of…”) just to take a jab at him.

    And this:

    It is crucial to know why the Holocaust happened. And we do know–racism.

    This statement sets up a false dilemma: certainly one can’t assume that since racism was obviously a reason for the Nazi atrocities, notions derived (correctly or incorrectly) on evolutionary theory can’t have contributed. I would even think that, if someone felt that they had an ethical duty to exterminate a race that was supposedly consuming resources needed by others based on Darwin’s theory, racism is exactly what you would call it, even though there was another underlying reason.

    I’m usually somewhat sympathetic with the content I read here, but this post misses by a mile. One bad turn does not deserve another.

  30. #30 gerald spezio
    April 23, 2008

    Here is a map and text about Zionist designs for Palestine & the Middle East.

    Why Supernation is not going to stop murdering Muslims and leave the Middle East.

    Israel’s chosen-ness and right to the Palestinian’s land trumps all, including Professor Caplan’s ethics.

    http://www.theunjustmedia.com/the%20zionist_plan_for_the_middle_east.htm

  31. #31 t-guy
    April 23, 2008

    I’ve noticed it’s often the same people who embrace the idea Hitler tried to extirpate the Jews because of Darwin who are the voices railing against Jewish “over-representation” in financial institutions, legal profession, and so-called liberal media. It doesn’t seem to bother them that if Jews truly dominate successful professions (and I have yet to see any proof), Hitler was trying to eliminate the fittest. Of course that’s usually how it is – nothing attracts bitterness and hatred like success.

  32. #32 Scotty B
    April 23, 2008

    “To Hitler, the Jews were a “cancer” or an “infection” that had to be extirpated from the German nation.”

    So what you’re saying is that its not Evolution, or “Darwinism” that led to the Holocaust, but instead germ theory, or “Pasteurism”.

  33. #33 cee
    April 23, 2008

    In not subjugating the self to Jehovah, whether Christian or Jew, the created places himself/herself as god and breaks the greatest commandment, as articulated in The Shema. From this singular error comes all immorality including anti-semitism. The ultimate conclusion of this continued self-idolatry is nihilism.

    I hold no grudge against those who have chosen their lot. This is why I am not an ideologue. People may freely choose to only say The Shema or actually obey it.

    So to the atheist who has simply removed the possibility of Jehovah, my point of view is nonsense. My construct explains the error in thinking in both the anti-Semite European Christian “religionist” who aided Hitler and the intellectual secularist who stood by and rationally excused the immorality, aided Hitler or simply emigrated. Both groups had the basic fundamental flaw that simply took them down two different roads that eventually meet up again.

    Some are now rationalizing the whole experience for themselves or their relatives who chose incorrectly. That is a normal human reaction and I have been guilty of that as well.

    I pity those who have proclaimed themselves god. It leaves them very vulnurable to the errors I see on this board, including the most immature one: hubris.

    The problems you site, Colugo, have the same father. Darwinism simply gave the immoral actions against Jew and Gentile wider acceptance to academics and a certain legitmacy that the uneducated church going anti-Semite European used for comfort.

    And again, I marvel at Mr. Caplan’s ignoring the medical aspect of the Holocaust that had nothing to do with racism or bigotry. The thousands who were killed (the mentally and physically disabled, etc) in the name of protecting the limited resources of the group was a reasoning that had the same source as the racial reasons. Even in the Jews processing through the concentration camps, the “weak” were immediately lead to the showers while the strong were used for slave labor. In a word, Darwinism.

    So dispense with the semantics. Words like “exterminate,” have meaning and Darwin was not kept in a vacuum. Those making the decisions clearly understood the implications of Darwinian ethics and the IDEOLOGY is the common thread.

    Science is NEVER in a vacuum without soical influence.

  34. #34 Orac
    April 23, 2008

    I’m usually somewhat sympathetic with the content I read here, but this post misses by a mile. One bad turn does not deserve another.

    Uh, which post? You’re disagreeing with Art Caplan’s comment, not my post. I didn’t write the line that you castigated.

    As for Dr. Caplan, I respectfully disagreed with him in that assessment, as I have long admired his work. I’m thinking of doing a followup post on this tomorrow to explain further why. Actually, I’m a bit mortified at the possibility that he might come back here, given how the comment thread has been hijacked by trolling.

    Back to work and protocol writing…

  35. #35 gerald spezio
    April 23, 2008

    Alan Greenspan has never said that all the murdering & destruction in Iraq is about cryptic Israeli designs to capture all of the promised land of Zion.

    Anybody who made such a claim would be guilty of possible anti-Semitism.

    Alan Greenspan said that the murdering, the lying, the distortions, the financial costs, & complete destruction of Iraq was “all about the oil.”

    Whatever the causes, including terrible ethics on the part of all manner of brilliant strategists, Iraq is one giant rubble heap filled with dead bodies.

  36. #36 Anthony McCarthy
    April 23, 2008

    Of course, there were scientists and doctors and politicians in the USA and across Europe who supported eugenics, which should be a cautionary note. Spaulding

    Yes, and one of those would be Leonard Darwin, Son of Charles, member of the who succeeded Francis Galton, Darwin’s cousin and confidant as the head of the British Eugenics Society. Both of whom said that Charles Darwin was their great inspiration in their promotion of eugenics. If you can find as good authorities as these two among the close associates of Charles Darwin, and I mean people who actually knew him, to rebut them on that link in the chain, you’d better present them because I’m looking and not finding them.

    The entire point of eugenics was to “mitigate” the alleged interruption of natural selection which was attributed to things like medical care, food aid, vaccination, etc. The entire point is that most of modern eugenics is a response to crises that went from Malthus – Spenser – Charles Darwin – Francis Galton – Leonard Darwin – Chas. Davenport, others and beyond. The political dependence on a distinction between artificial and natural selection is going to fail due to some of Charles Darwin’s own statements such as in The Descent of Man. Political success doesn’t depend on proof beyond a reasonable doubt, it’s usually not even on the basis of a preponderance of the evidence. But denying that the evidence presented by the opponents of evolution exists has been a political failure for the past several decades.

    While Charles Darwin couldn’t justly be accused of predicting a form of fascism that rose a half-century after he died – no one else in the 1880s did as far as I know – but you can’t make a claim that his son Leonard wasn’t around as it was beginning. As late as the 1920s he was in collegeal contact with Charles Davenport. As an example, here’s a letter Davenport sent L. Darwin:

    November 11, 1922, Major Leonard Darwin, Cripp’s Corner, Forest Row, Sussex, England. Dear Major Darwin;- Thank you for your kind letter of November first. I am arranging to have two copies of the sterilization book sent to you. I gathered from contact with geneticists and eugenicists in Austria and Germany that so far from eugenics not being recognized by scientific societies that the German Government is about the only one that has asked and secured the cooperation of leading scientific men (certainly members of leading scientific societies) to cooperate with the Government by constituting a committee to which should be referred all legislation of eugenical import. Apart from the international society 2 of Dr. Alfred Ploctz[sp.?] in Munich, the liveliest society dealing with eugenical matters is the Deutsche Geselschaft fur Vererbungswissenschaft of which Dr. H. Hachtsheim, Landwitach, Hochschule zu Berlin, Invalidenstrasse 42, Berlin, H.4, is secretary. With kind regards to Mrs. Darwin, as well as yourself, Sincerely yours, Chas. B. Davenport, Director. D/G

    http://www.eugenicsarchive.org/html/eugenics/static/images/440.html

    While I haven’t gotten around to reading much of his stuff, Davenport was in contact with Nazi eugenicists, at least up to the war.

    I don’t think the charge of Charles Darwin being responsible for the Holocaust is accurate or even just but you can’t deny the record of links that exist to his followers and their followers in turn.

    If you don’t think the anti-evolution side knows all of this already, you just haven’t been paying attention. They know it, they use it and trying to deny it exists plays into their hands.

  37. #37 Liesl
    April 23, 2008

    “Holocaust denial is not just about did an event happen or not. It is crucial to know why the Holocaust happened. And we do know–racism.”

    Of course it’s important to know why an event happened; that’s not even an issue in contention. But knowing why a thing happened and denying that it happened are mutually exclusive, don’t you think?

    “To imply, suggest or pronounce other causes is to deny what happened just as surely as to say no one was killed in the concentration camps. History encompasses both events and their causes.”

    There were other issues and causes; they may not have been THE cause, but they played a role. To boil it all down to one factor is to simply it to an extent that removes meaning. People aren’t that simple or monofaceted and neither are the events people create. There were people who took part in the culture of the holocaust who did so out of expediency; racism for them was a product of a “greater” goal. Nothing related to the holocaust is minimized if we admit that there were other causes, albeit lesser causes. The horror remains. I just don’t think we can lump the people who pin false causes on the holocaust in the same category as the denialists. One group denies reality as we know it; the other group denies reality as we think it to be.

    Thank you for the frank dialogue, Dr. Caplan. We need all of it we can get.

  38. #38 gerald spezio
    April 23, 2008

    When Israel Firster and self styled public intellectual, Norman Podhoretz, demands that the US military rain bombs on Iran because “there is no other way to stop them:” I could conclude that Podhoretz is a bigoted murdering rascist monster, but I surely couldn’t conclude that Darwin was responsible for Podhoretz’s unquestionably murderous and rascist statements.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bLq6pzOc5w&feature=related

  39. #39 JF
    April 23, 2008

    I can see Caplan not liking the Expelled argument, but to equate it with Holocaust denial seems a specious argument of itself. People argue A, B, or C as a derivative of some historical event X all the time. To say B follows X equals D just does not seem right. I really don’t think Stein and the Expelled makers deny the Holocaust and I don’t think Art does either. So what then does his argument achieve other than to try and denigrate the Stein and the makers of Expelled?? Smells like a pissing match to me. Caplan writes, No wonder creationists like to quote Hitler so much to try to smear their hated “Darwinism” with the association”. So it’s just fine if Caplin paints Stein and the Expelled makers with the Holocaust denial brush?

    It appears clear that Expelled makes a very tenuous argument with only marginal associations being presented as somehow an inevitable path from Darwin to the death camps. That’s the issue. The religion trying to masquerade as science is also the issue. Many people who advocated eugenics felt that Darwin somehow provided them with justification for their beliefs. They were wrong, and clearly drew the wrong conclusions from evolutionary theory as it was early in the 20th Century. That does not mean that those who made improper arguments for eugenics from evolutionary theory were Nazi’s in the same manner Stein’s wrong headed logic makes him a Holocaust denier. IMO

  40. #40 shortie
    April 23, 2008

    spezio, it appears that you could conclude just about anything and have no need for going through even the motions of prior logical analysis. Whatever you are, it is clearly self-styled in the genre of the fanatical.

  41. #41 Jesse
    April 23, 2008

    Again, the simple truth that many leading Darwinists in the early 20th Century promoted infanticide and involuntary euthanasia…

    Citations? Weblinks don’t count.

    …as well as racial extermination seems to be lost on those who want to deny any link between Darwin’s conclusions on how natural selection applies to human populations and the justifications used by the Nazi’s for their actions.

    Following your logic (Discoverer of natural selection is blamed for heinous crimes that claim to be enacted as a form of ‘natural selection’) then you obviously would blame the scientists who discovered the element arsenic for all murders carried out by arsenic poisoning and you also would blame the scientists who discovered warfarin for all murders carried out with rat poison, right? After all the conclusions of these scientists are clearly being used in acts of murder.

  42. #42 pedlar
    April 23, 2008

    I think Caplan’s point about Holocaust denial can be be illustrated by a kind of argumentum ad absurdum.

    1. I accept 6 million jews died in Nazi Germany. But they were killed by an asteroid strike. Holocaust denial, right? Even though the deaths are accepted.
    2. I accept 6 million jews died in Nazi Germany. In concentration camps. But it was an outbreak of plague that killed them. Well, that started off better – but it’s still Holocaust denial. Right?
    3. I accept 6 miiliion jews died in Nazi Germany. In concentration camps. Killed by camp guards. Deliberately. But they were infected by aliens from Planet Xenu. Pod people, you know. And that’s still Holocaust denial.

    And so on. Anything that deliberately lies about the truth of what happened and why it happened is a form of Holocaust denial.

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch … one point needs to be hammered home again and again. Hammered deep into the thick skulls of these Liars for Jesus. Darwin didn’t discover Evolution. He discovered* Natural Selection. The concept of Evolution – that organisms change over time – goes way back. Almost as far as the concept of Artificial Selection. That goes back at least ten thousand years to the beginning of systematic agriculture and animal breeding. And Eugenics (and its offspring, the Holocaust) is BY ITS VERY DEFINITION ARTIFICIAL SELECTION, NOT NATURAL SELECTION.

    There, did I scream that loudly enough?

    *okay, that’s way too simplistic. I’m quite sure the concept of Natural Selection had occurred many, many times to many, many forgotten people in the course of their anonymous and forgotten lives, it’s just that Darwin was the first to realise – and spend the rest of his life investigating – the power of that idea when harnessed to the glaringly obvious fact of Evolution.

    Two quick points. Dawkins happily uses (used, he’s changed his mind lately) ‘Darwinism’ because he’s a Brit. The UK is blessedly free of idiot creationists and their 19th century mindset; in the US it’s necessary to point out in every way that MET is 150 years on from Darwin’s original formulation.

    And … Gerald, you’re a twit. (That’s Janine’s line, but as she’s not here I’m just filling in… )

  43. #43 The Christian Cynic
    April 23, 2008

    Orac, my apologies: I missed the sentence where you expressly noted your disagreement with that statement, instead taking my initial impression from the initial sentence where you said you liked him (assuming from such that you liked him for his notion of Stein’s “form of Holocaust denial”). I don’t think it was a grand assumption on my part, but my apologies nonetheless for not reading as fully as I should.

    Of course, the rest of my comment – directed at Caplan – stands.

  44. #44 The Christian Cynic
    April 23, 2008

    pedlar:

    And so on. Anything that deliberately lies about the truth of what happened and why it happened is a form of Holocaust denial.

    For someone who just threw about the insult ‘twit,’ you sure don’t have a very good grasp on the plain meaning of “Holocaust denial.” The options you gave materially change the events that occurred, which is not at all what Expelled! does (to my knowledge – if someone wants to tell me about that scene where Ben Stein alludes to a meeting of the Darwinist minds where Hitler and some heathen evolutionary biologists decided to exterminate the Jews). Expelled!, however wrong it may be on the motivations of Hitler and the Nazis more generally, does not appear to disagree at all with the historical consensus on the events that occurred which we collectively term “the Holocaust.” If I said, “The Holocaust was a horrible atrocity that my grandfather fortunately survived,” I would be deliberately lying – he wasn’t anywhere near Europe at that time in his life – but it still wouldn’t make me a Holocaust denier. Similarly, I could say, “Hitler decided to exterminate the Jews because a frisky Jewish guy spurned him in his youth,” even though I’m pretty sure that’s false (although not totally impossible), and I still wouldn’t be denying that the Holocaust actually happened (I’d just be inventing a story to serve as a backdrop). Your whole statement just doesn’t hold water.

  45. #45 Harry Eagar
    April 23, 2008

    Theorists of German supremacism cited Rembrandt even more prominently than Darwin, but somehow nobody sets up these days as an anti-Rembrandtist.

  46. #46 Colugo
    April 24, 2008

    An Intelligent Design advocate (at least I assume Joy is, since the post is at Telic Thoughts) writes that denial of the idea that Darwinism led to the Holocaust is a form of Holocaust denial.

    http://telicthoughts.com/rewriting-history-holocaust-denial/

    (I’m a little puzzled why Joy defends Expelled since apparently this individual is not as zealous as Ben Stein on the topic.)

    I think that most of us agree that disagreements – even over grossly inaccurate and exploitative “explanations” – over the causes of the Holocaust do not constitute Holocaust denial, the “pod people” example notwithstanding. In fact, the notions that the German populace were held captive by a trance or were in a numb state passively following out orders – both incorrect – are not too far away from the pod people hypothesis. And these were not generally called Holocaust denial. Holocaust abuse (suggested by Mark H) or Holocaust exploitation are better terms.

    An additional observation: Thanks to Expelled and similar products, the whole topic has been tainted with agenda-driven propaganda and now discussion about the history of ideas and the shaping of ideologies will, if it veers too close to particular approaches, be labeled as akin to the Expelled thesis – even if it is not. Similarly, Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism has stunk up several lines of inquiry about a number of topics, including the origins of fascism. Hopefully in both cases the air will eventually clear and it will be possible to have a responsible discussion about certain topics without some controversial but responsible viewpoints being associated with these profoundly flawed pieces of agitprop.

  47. #47 Skemono
    April 24, 2008

    Hitler seems hopelessly confused about the definition of “species,” confusing it with race. Indeed, Hitler seems to conflate the two, as the next passage clearly shows

    Which would be odd if he were so enamored of evolution, since evolution was what put an end to polygenist nonsense.

    Later in that same chapter, Hitler writes at great, pontificating length (as was his habit) about how the “Aryan” race is the “founder of culture” and superior, another conclusion that nothing in “Darwinism” leads to.

    Quite true. It’s also interesting to note that the “Aryans create culture/civilization” idea predates “Darwinism” by a good couple of years, being advanced by Joseph Gobineau in An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races.

  48. #48 Anthony McCarthy
    April 24, 2008

    I think now I understand how the side with all the facts, evolution, can so consistently lose politically. I mean other than the typical arrogance of so many of the evolutionists who push their way to the microphone, shoving aside more reasonable evolutionists.

    You guys have no idea how politics work. You think that all you have to do is hold the hypothesis of Charles Darwin being linked to eugenics to a standard of absolute proof and you’ve won. You think that the general public will be won over by the lack of a smoking gun, despite compelling evidence that he was linked to it and that, by implication of a rather strong kind, through his son, his cousin, his friends and followers and through their associates in the eugenics movement, to the Holocaust.

    Hells belles, what is it about the gaining failure of what I’ll loosely call your political strategy since at least the 1960s that you haven’t learned from?

    Watching you guys unable to understand that the far right which has successfully used evolution politically doesn’t care about the subject, they don’t care about your proof for evolution or standards of evidence in the trial of Charles Darwin is amazing. They hear arrogant evolutionists like Dawkins with a smug look on their face (the toffee-nosed Brit accent doesn’t help here either) and they rub their hands together with glee. These people aren’t stupid, they’re dishonest and they’re crafty. The comforting arrogance of many of you pretending that they’re stupid and illiterate is denialism just as much as the denial of the scientific evidence of evolution is. The creationists aren’t stupid as evidenced by the two-thirds of Americans polling on their side these days. They can read what Darwin wrote and understand that his continually supplying material for the establishment of eugenics with a wink and a nod really provided the anti-evolution side with a gold mine of material to use. The subsequent supply from arrogant and clueless evolutionists is just a bonus.

    If what I’m reading about Ben Stein’s movie, which I, like most of you haven’t seen and don’t want to see, about the only way you are going to be able to fight it is by coming up with intimate associates of Darwin who opposed his cousin, his son and many others who, knew Darwin personally and professionally who cited him in their eugenics promotion.

    While the indirect guilt through his cousin and son and Charles Darwin’s thin shreds of denialism spread through The Descent of Man might seem like a life jacket for the Darwin myth constructed around him, it’s a proven failure politically. If you take further comfort in asserting that “this isn’t about politics, it’s about science” you are still taking comfort in the myth of your own superiority. If this isn’t all a political fight, what are you whining about a movie by a cheap political hack for?

    Charles Darwin is not necessary to the promotion of evolution in 2008, he is a failed brand name. If you keep on with the futile effort to rescue his myth from the historical record, which is known and used successfully by the other side, you are a lot less bright than you like to think you are.

  49. #49 symball
    April 24, 2008

    HI Orac- I just wanted to hijack your comments for a second.

    I saw this and thought of you

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/apr/24/bskyb.television

    Personally I’m not sure which way this could go, the new Dr. Who went well but many other shows have been rather badly re-imagined.

  50. #50 Mister Griswold
    April 24, 2008

    I’ve read “The Origin of Species..” and don’t recall any mention of eugenics, and certainly didn’t come away from it inspired to advocate genocide. Maybe I missed something.
    I’ve heard the claim that Hitler never once mentioned Darwin in his writings or speeches, but cited Martin Luther (author of “On the Jews and Their Lies”, and the father of the Protestant Reformation) many times. Is this true? It would be great if someone did a tally.

  51. #51 Anthony McCarthy
    April 24, 2008

    Mister Griswold, read The Descent of Man, your opponents have.

    If Martin Luther, anti-Semite of several centuries before Hitler was born can be held responsible for his part in the Holocaust, how can you deny the clear links of Charles Darwin to eugenics which he supplied arguments to, as well as a son? While I have no particular regard for Martin Luther and have read the anti-semitic diatribe you mention, during the period when a lot of eugenicists who believed themselves to be Darwinists were on their march of folly towards the Holocaust, 20th century Lutheranism was also supplying Dietrich Bonhoeffer to the picture.

    Your position isn’t just transparently dishonest, it is political folly to keep asserting it in face of the fact that the evidence is in the hands of the anti-evolution side. Look at their websites and look up their citations if you don’t believe me.

    Though, as you say, you may have missed something. There seems to be an epidemic of “I know nothing” in the Darwin fan club.

  52. #52 cee
    April 24, 2008

    I have been educated here. Artificial selection? Interesting. I was not aware that Darwin differentiated between the agents of selection. Killing among members of the same species or the killing of members of other species was a part of the selection process based on the limit of resources. I was not aware there was “artificial selection.” Someone please show me this reference in ORIGINS or DESCENT. While I was in University and studying these issues, I never came across such a moral paradigm in my major.

    As a biology major, I was not taught that natural selection had a moral process that implied a natural versus artificial form of selecting out advantage. Science was amoral. In my history classes I observed the many moral constructs humans have lived under across the centuries and I did study many who saw Darwin’s theories as a new way to look at society, ethics and economy. With the backdrop of Nietzche, Marx and Engels, I read how many came to a new conclusion on a moral paradigm that was very popular in the early part of the 20th Century. All sorts of excuses were used to replace the old with the new and the laboratory became the lives of hundreds of millions. Nihilism, or what I like to characterize as extreme skepticism, was finally academically accepted.

    Prior to the 19th century, most published academics never came to such extreme ends of nihilism. Their skepticism was held to a moderation by a moral construct usually rooted in their religious devotion. The nihilism that emerged as an accepted way of thinking amonst intellectuals, late in the 18th century, was a radical ideology that seems very prevelant in atheists, agnostics and scientists today. Not all in these groups have embraced such unchecked skepticism.

    Nihilism expresses itself in the use of pejoratives as seen above and in Mr. Caplan’s piece. I suggest to those who quickly degenerate into using such language, in the evaluation the points of views of their fellows, quietly contemplate the reasons for their hatred.

    The bottomline is that if there is no moral implication of Darwinism, then why were there so many of his SCIENTIFIC contemporaries so concerned about his conclusions? Why is there a controversy? I like those that come to the debate chair saying there should not be a debate because what Darwin discovered and articulated really should not have been used incorrectly in application to ethical, economic, or social issues. They were and it is a fact of life.

    By the way, Jesse, I will refer you to the Weikert’s DARWIN TO HITLER for the evidence of the 20th Century ethicists that used Darwin’s theory in forming ethical constructs and then opened up the possibilites to euthanasia, infanticide and the killing of the mentally/physically disabled based on the premise that humankind has limited resources.

    Intellectuals often fall because of their extreme skepticism. Hubris is all over this board and I would again suggest quiet contemplation (I would use the word prayer but I know most do not think that is useful), and when one is tempted to use pejoratives they should think about why and where this primative reaction is coming from.

    By the way, Charles Darwin does have severe baggage not only because of his own words, but because of his place in history and the fact that many of his contemporaries did observe and even predict the moral implications of his theories. Scientists, (and others) who ignore and demand others ignore these truths risk apperaing to have an ideological agenda as much as they claim Stein and others do.

    Lastly, I would suggest those who feel scientists have no culpability in the use and applications of their discoveries should read the writings of Alfred Nobel. The primary sources will be a powerful example that refutes the idea that scientific discoveries are amoral and the scientist is not capable or needed to articulate the implications of their work.

  53. #53 Anthony McCarthy
    April 24, 2008

    Correction:

    I said that Ben Stein was a cheap political hack. He’s a political hack but I doubt his services come cheap. He’s been working steadily at it for forty years and his services are apparently in high demand.

  54. #54 Grant Canyon
    April 24, 2008

    “I have been educated here. Artificial selection? Interesting. I was not aware that Darwin differentiated between the agents of selection. Killing among members of the same species or the killing of members of other species was a part of the selection process based on the limit of resources. I was not aware there was ‘artificial selection.’ Someone please show me this reference in ORIGINS or DESCENT.”

    Are you kidding? Read Chapters 1-3 of “On the Origin of Species.” Darwin clearly lays out the fact that artifical selection (i.e., breeding and animal husbandry) has been practiced by humans since prehistory and has resulted in the great diversity of domesticated plants and animals. His argument was little more than “you know how we have created the vast diversity of domesticated species by selecting the traits we favor? Nature does the same thing in those whose traits confer a differential reproductive advantage in a given environment.” That’s all that the theory of natural selection (i.e., “Darwinism”) says: if you don’t do anything to a population, the population will become modified by the fact that those who have inheritable traits which make them more reproductively successful will contribute more to succeeding generations.

    That’s why the statement by creationists-holocaust denialists/revisionists, to the effect that the Nazis “put Darwin’s ideas into practice”, is a load of bullshit: the only way to put Darwin’s ideas into practice on a particular population is to leave it alone for a couple hundred generations and see what traits are passed on and which are not.

    Darwin’s argument and theory was SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED to exclude the actions of man. That’s the big lie (or ignornance) of the Darwin-led-to-Hitler crowd. Eugenics (i.e., the application of artificial selection to humans) may have played a role in the Holocaust, but eugenics is not derived from the principles of natural selection, except by analogy. It’s derived from the prinicples of ARTIFICIAL selection. It’s more akin to animal husbandry than natural selection. And, indeed, many eugenicists, especially early ones, made this same mistake.

    And, contrary to Stein, even eugenics was not “necessary” for the Holocaust to happen. The history of Christiandom has clearly established that European Christians have no need of a pseudo-scientific sheen to justify their slaughter of Jews. See, e.g., Luther, Martin. If they didn’t have eugenics, they would have found some other reason to kill the Jews.

  55. #55 Anthony
    April 24, 2008

    Off topic, but will be of interest:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7364663.stm

  56. #56 Orac
    April 24, 2008

    Part two of this post is here.

  57. #57 Anthony McCarthy
    April 24, 2008

    Grant Canyon, you take the typical dodge into separating eugenics from natural selection. Do you think that Galton and Leonard Darwin didn’t accept nautral selection and see eugenics as a for of artifical selection made necessary by medical care, vaccination and other things enumerated by Charles Darwin in this famous passage:

    With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

    It is impossible for the Darwinists to deny that Charles Darwin, himself made the first link in the chain of modern eugenics by publishing things like that, it’s famous because anyone who wasn’t in denial can plainly see that it is the foundational argument for eugenics. And don’t bother with Charles’ mild-as-milk demmural in the following paragraph, no one but committed Darwinists pretend it to negate this and many other statements useful to eugenics.

    You think you are a better authority on Charles Darwin’s contributions to eugenics than his son and his cousin? Pardon me but I doubt that, since they both had access to a source that no one today has, personal conversations with Charles Darwin not preserved in the written record. They certainly knew him when he was being much more candid than his typically coy published work reveals.

  58. #58 cee
    April 24, 2008

    Mmm, Grant, I look at my copy of ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES and do not see such a distinction being made by Sir Charles. The seperation of selection by man for husbandry purposes is the foundation for which the author introduces us to what nature likely does to make the variability we observe. It is a wonderful and logical construct based on the same goal of existence. In the case of animal and plant breeding the success is abundant resources but still living organisms, in the case of nature selecting it is the the living organism.

    The only difference you, not Darwin, place on it is intent. You are taking the text and forcing it into a defense and creating the term, “Artificial Selection.” Sure, after someone like Margaret Sanger comes along and applies Darwin to human behavior does the defender go back to the original text and find the intent of Darwin.

    Also, your analysis leaves out a key part of Darwin’s theory of natural selection. He specifically mentions the competition to survive in an environment of limited resources as part of the selection process. Why did you leave that part out, Grant?

    “That’s all that the theory of natural selection (i.e., “Darwinism”) says: if you don’t do anything to a population, the population will become modified by the fact that those who have inheritable traits which make them more reproductively successful will contribute more to succeeding generations.”

    “That’s all [the theory says]?” This is an inaccruate (incomplete) summary of Darwin’s theory.

    So, please stay on point. Those who applied Darwin’s theory to economy, society, ethics used the accurate summary and this is what I was discussing in the previous post. Trying to reframe the argument that Darwin intended only a “natural” theory that eliminated willful choices by Homo sapien to be excluded (whether to other species or to members of Homo sapien), is dishonest.

  59. #59 Anthony McCarthy
    April 24, 2008

    No, I’ll hold the clarification until someone makes the next dodge, just to see how well you guys know the literature.

  60. #60 Grant Canyon
    April 24, 2008

    “Grant Canyon, you take the typical dodge into separating eugenics from natural selection.”
    I also take the “typical dodge” of distinguishing black from white, night from day and apples from oranges.

    “Do you think that Galton and Leonard Darwin didn’t accept nautral selection and see eugenics as a for of artifical selection made necessary by medical care, vaccination and other things enumerated by Charles Darwin in this famous passage:..”
    No, I’m saying that anyone who claims that eugenics is derived from, or is an application of Darwinism (i.e., the theory of natural selection) or says that natural selection necessarily led to the Holocaust is either mistaken, a fool, evil, an idiot, ignorant or a liar.

    “It is impossible for the Darwinists to deny that Charles Darwin, himself made the first link in the chain of modern eugenics by publishing things like that…”
    “[F]irst link in the chain” is a meaningless statement; suitable for apologetics or politics, perhaps, not for anything worthwhile. Did the eugenicists claim that they were applying the theory of natural selection? Perhaps, but, if so, they’re wrong. Did they claim to have been inspired by Darwinism? Perhaps, but “Helter Skelter” inspired the Tate-LaBianca murders. That doesn’t mean the Beatles were an necessary cause of the Manson Family.
    (And not everything written by Darwin, even torn out of context by creationists, constitutes an element of Darwinism.)

    “…it’s famous because anyone who wasn’t in denial can plainly see that it is the foundational argument for eugenics.”
    Even if that were true (which it isn’t), that doesn’t make it part of the theory of natural selection.

    “And don’t bother with Charles’ mild-as-milk demmural in the following paragraph, no one but committed Darwinists pretend it to negate this and many other statements useful to eugenics.”
    Actually, your dismissal of that paragraph is telling.
    To the extent that Darwin’s words can be construed as commenting on eugenics, that “mild-as-milk” statement cuts through the putrid-as-rotting-flesh stench that the likes of the Stein are pimping.
    Darwin, in the paragraph you quoted, states (albeit in his Victorian manner) the simple truth that those who receive medical care, vaccinations, etc., can survive and reproduce when their genetic make-up would, without those efforts, lead to their demise. This is not eugenics; it’s a simple, unimpeachable truth, observable by the fact that those who die in infancy of small pox don’t leave grandchildren behind.
    What eugenics says is that human societies should take certain steps (make certain value judgments) in light of that simple truth. Darwin’s next statements, which you refuse to quote, directly refute the notion that providing those efforts of medical care, vaccinations, etc., is anything but an expression of the noblest part of our being as humans:

    The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil.

    Darwin, here, is specifically rejecting – as inhuman and evil – the thought that we should withhold this help, even to those which the eugenicist would presumably term “weak”. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of eugenics.
    But all this is besides the point. Regardless of what Darwin’s view of eugenics, it doesn’t change the fact that eugenics is not a part of the process by which evolution by natural selection works, nor is a part of the theory Darwin devised.

    “You think you are a better authority on Charles Darwin’s contributions to eugenics than his son and his cousin?” No. But, then again, I’m not making an appeal to authority.

    “Pardon me but I doubt that, since they both had access to a source that no one today has, personal conversations with Charles Darwin not preserved in the written record. They certainly knew him when he was being much more candid than his typically coy published work reveals.”
    Again, so what? Even if Charles Darwin was history’s biggest eugenicist, it would not change the fact that eugenics is the application of artificial selection to humans, and cannot be derived from natural selection, except through false analogy.

    *****

    “Mmm, Grant, I look at my copy of ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES and do not see such a distinction being made by Sir Charles.”
    The first Chapter of “On The Origin Of Species” is titled “Variation Under Domestication” and the second “Variation Under Nature.” Pretty clearly distinct. (And he was never knighted, so he was not “Sir Charles.” The religious lunatics of his day were as piss-scared of the truth as the crazy Xians of our day, so they were able to block any knighthood.)

    “You are taking the text and forcing it into a defense and creating the term, ‘Artificial Selection.’”
    Yeah, that’s exactly what I did. There is no way that the distinction between artifical and natural selection is in the text. And definitely no where does the term “artificial selection” occur, because I “created” it. And there is absolutely no way does the following appears in Chapter 4 of the book, which is titled, “Natural Selection”:
    “Slow though the process of selection may be, if feeble man can do much by his powers of artificial selection, I can see no limit to the amount of change, to the beauty and infinite complexity of the coadaptations between all organic beings, one with another and with their physical conditions of life, which may be effected in the long course of time by nature’s power of selection.”

    “Also, your analysis leaves out a key part of Darwin’s theory of natural selection. He specifically mentions the competition to survive in an environment of limited resources as part of the selection process. Why did you leave that part out, Grant?”
    LOL. I also didn’t define “animals” or “reproduction” on the assumption that anyone who is reading it would be familiar with basic, first-grade level stuff. (Why, exactly, would you think that this point helps your position?)

    “Those who applied Darwin’s theory to economy, society, ethics…” …are doing something as stupid as applying the theory of quantum mechanics to “economy, society, ethics.” Those who try to apply the theory of natural selection to “economy, society, ethics” are morons; those who persist in believing that those morons actually did apply Darwin’s theory to these things are even bigger morons.

    “Trying to reframe the argument that Darwin intended only a “natural” theory that eliminated willful choices by Homo sapien to be excluded (whether to other species or to members of Homo sapien), is dishonest.”
    No. The theory of evolution by natural selection attempted to do nothing except answer the questions “Why is there such a diversity of life? How did that diversity arise? How did the evolution of life that we see in the fossil record and in biology of the world arise?” He was not formulating a theory of economics, society, ethics or any of the other dumb shit to which people have yoked him.

  61. #61 Mister Griswold
    April 24, 2008

    Anthony McCarthy, here are Darwin’s very next sentences:

    “The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil.”

    Your reply to me appears to involve some “quote-mining”. I’m told it is a common tactic used by those with an anti-science agenda.

  62. #62 Leni
    April 24, 2008

    I agree with Caplan. I think attributing the cause of the greatest genocide ever is more or less a kind of Holocaust denial.

    I don’t think it has to be one or the other necessarily. As was pointed out earlier by Liesl:

    Of course it’s important to know why an event happened; that’s not even an issue in contention. But knowing why a thing happened and denying that it happened are mutually exclusive, don’t you think?

    Not necessarily. Most of the time the deniers minimize the death toll, while still admitting the might be a small problem with racism. Also, who says they are being rational? ;)

    I see what you’re saying, but usually denial is a mix of minimizing and blame shifting to rationalize what remains. What Stein did was one part of the process- shifting the blame. I see the distinction others have made, and I don’t totally disagree with it, I just think Caplan’s got a fair point.

    Aside from that, I see no problem with having a range of deniers with Ben Stein near one end and Ahmadinajad (I probably should have checked the spelling on that) near the other. it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, especially considering the complexity of idiocy that exists on the matter.

    That said… Cee, no one needed Dawrin to understand that you coould wipe out a people. It’s not like this was the fisrt attempt to that ever and it was a shocking success. They just attempted to use the mantle of respectability offered by science as a way to convince themselves that they were indeed as superior as they thought themselves to be.

  63. #63 Anthony McCarthy
    April 24, 2008

    Oh, for crying out loud Griswold, I mentioned the paragraph in my response to you, I dealt with it saying that no one except committed Darwin apologists take his wink and nod seriously. Apparently neither his cousin and close confidant and colleague Francis Galton nor his own son Leonard Darwin took his deniability parachutes seriously as they “mined” his eugenics advocacy leaving behind his, well, behind covering. And there are quotes from Thomas Huxley and others from the center of the Darwin circle which say pretty much the same thing, without the dodge.

    How much of Darwin’s output do you have to quote to avoid the “quote mining” dodge? It’s the typical tactic of Darwinists who don’t like to deal with his many quotes setting out eugenicist arguments, ethnic and racial bigotry, etc.

    Grant Canyon, you have evidence that other people who actually knew Charles Darwin condemned Francis Galton and Leonard Darwin for citing Charles Darwin’s work in support of their eugenics activities, because if you can’t then you have nothing to base your claims on.

    Oddly, I haven’t been able to find Darwinists who made claims against eugenics on it’s being a violation of Darwinism until after it lost favor in the aftermath of the Holocaust. I’d really be interested if you know of any who said Leonard Darwin didn’t understand his father’s work during L. Darwin’s life.

    So, show me your quotes to that effect.

    You apparently don’t understand that mainstream eugenics is an attempt to correct an alleged interruption of natural selection in line with Darwinist ideas. You have to believe that natural selection would have to be replaced by artifical selection to be that kind of a eugenicist. The reliance on the distinction is political and artifical and yet another dodge by the Darwin cult.

  64. #64 Mister Griswold
    April 24, 2008

    Anthony McCarthy, you asked:

    “How much of Darwin’s output do you have to quote to avoid the “quote mining” dodge?” The answer is: enough so that the intended meaning is conveyed accurately.

    Granted, there may have been evildoers who tried to justify their actions by perversely citing Darwin’s tremendous insight regarding the natural world. Blaming him for the actions of those people makes neither logical nor moral sense. This whole “Darwin caused the Holocaust” baloney you’re pitching is going nowhere.

    BTW, please post your list of quotes by Hitler praising Charles Darwin.

    Gott Mit Uns!

  65. #65 Grant Canyon
    April 24, 2008

    “Grant Canyon, you have evidence that other people who actually knew Charles Darwin condemned Francis Galton and Leonard Darwin for citing Charles Darwin’s work in support of their eugenics activities, because if you can’t then you have nothing to base your claims on.”

    Nonsense. All one needs is a little intelligence, education, reasoning ability and honesty: things that are sorely lacking in the Darwin-to-Hitler gang. Further, even if no one ever made point before, it would not matter. All one needs to know is what eugenics is and what natural selection is, and the fact that the former did not arise from the latter is clear to any honest, decent person with a modicum of reasoning ability. That requirement, of course, excludes Stein and the Expelled crowd, but that’s their problem.

    “Oddly, I haven’t been able to find Darwinists who made claims against eugenics on it’s being a violation of Darwinism until after it lost favor in the aftermath of the Holocaust.”

    Not so odd. My guess is that there was not a whole lot of people making the libel that Stein is pushing, and understood the limited nature of the analogy between eugenics and natural selection. Prior to this latest generation of unprincipled “cdesign proponentsists” and religious lunatics, there would be no reason to argue the obvious. But they aren’t seeking reason, but spin, to advance their political agenda.

    I mean, it takes a certain intellectual pathology and disingenuousness to read Darwin’s statement – which essentially says “It is good, as moral people, that we help people in need even though they might otherwise perish without offspring. Therefore eugenics is misguided” – and characterize it as a “mild-as-milk demmural”, “wink and nod”, “deniability parachute[]” or “dodge.” That is a serious inability to confront exculpatory material.

    And for the record, just off the top of my head, I remember Boaz describing, in critique, eugenics as being equivalent to animal husbandry, without a peep about it being natural selection.

    “You apparently don’t understand that mainstream eugenics is an attempt to correct an alleged interruption of natural selection in line with Darwinist ideas.”

    And you apparently don’t understand that, “correct[ing] and alleged interruption of natural selection” is, biologically speaking, meaningless gibberish. One cannot “correct,” “speed up,” “aid,” “assist,” or “help” natural selection. Evolution by natural selection is the result of a process; there is no predetermined outcome, no ladder of progress. It is merely adaptation to a change in the local environment.

    “The reliance on the distinction is political and artifical and yet another dodge by the Darwin cult.”

    Ha! That’s rich. There is little to creationists (especially the Darwin-to-Hitler subset) except for politics. That, and a fear-based inability to give up their religious blankets and pacifiers, grow up and face the real world.

  66. #66 Anthony McCarthy
    April 24, 2008

    Mister Griswold, you come a bit late to this and are in the habit of not reading up tread aparently, I said someplace above that Darwin couldn’t have predicted a form of fascism that arose a half century after he died and in no place did I say he caused the Holocaust, which would be absurd. So, while I’m used to having you guys try to put words in my mouth to pretend I’ve said things I haven’t, I don’t put up with that stuff.

    I notice neither you nor the Canyon can come up with quotes that refute Leonard Darwin and Francis Galton saying that Charles Darwin was the inspiration for their eugenics. Since they were both close family memebers who knew, talked with, worked with and, obviously knew Charles Darwin’s work better than any of us, I’ll think they know more about it than the pop-Darwinists of 2008. I’m afraid they’re what are known as superior authorities on the subject of someone they actually knew.

    Blog Darwinists have to count a some of the most intellectually dishonest people I’ve ever encountered.

  67. #67 Grant Canyon
    April 24, 2008

    “I notice neither you nor the Canyon can come up with quotes that refute Leonard Darwin and Francis Galton saying that Charles Darwin was the inspiration for their eugenics.”
    I notice that you are ignoring the fact that it doesn’t matter what they claimed as their “inspiration.” What matters is whether eugenics stems from Darwinism. Because without that link, the whole Darwin-led-to-Hitler crap that you people are spreading, simply falls apart. And that link doesn’t exist, except in the fevered imagination of the creationist so-called mind. As a matter of biological, academic and historical fact, eugenics did not stem from Darwinism and has nothing to do with it, except, at most, by loose analogy. Consequently, what you and Stein and the rest of your ilk are spreading are simply lies.

    “Since they were both close family memebers who knew, talked with, worked with and, obviously knew Charles Darwin’s work better than any of us, I’ll think they know more about it than the pop-Darwinists of 2008. I’m afraid they’re what are known as superior authorities on the subject of someone they actually knew.”
    This is the classic logical error of the appeal to authority. That they knew him, etc., is irrelevant to the key issue of whether eugenics stems, in fact, from Darwinism. And on that issue, they are in no position more privileged, a priori, then anyone able to analyze the two matters and compare them. Their being Darwin’s relatives doesn’t somehow make the falsehoods you are claiming into truthful statements.

    “Blog Darwinists have to count a some of the most intellectually dishonest people I’ve ever encountered.”
    Oh, please. You are wrong, but you are too damned delusional, probably with religious mania, to admit it. That doesn’t make other people “intellectually dishonest,” it just makes you wrong. You should just grow up, admit it and move along.

  68. #68 Anthony McCarthy
    April 24, 2008

    Oh, please. You are wrong,

    Oh, so now you not only know more about Charles Darwin than his own son, you think you can tell me what my experience is too. And yet you tell me I’m delusional.

    Let me clue you in to something you aren’t going to be told by your pals, when you’re trying to call someone a liar, you don’t do it by telling lies about them to their face.

    Not only dishonest, and illiterate, apparently, but they argue like particularly lazy seventh graders.

  69. #69 Damian
    April 24, 2008

    Anthony McCarthy said:

    No, I’ll hold the clarification until someone makes the next dodge, just to see how well you guys know the literature.

    “The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil.”

    Yes, indeed, and you call us arrogant while you quote mine the very man that you accuse. Nice.

    Nobody denies the connections that you state, Anthony. What we deny is that it is right and proper to use, and indeed abuse, that history to oppose a perfectly valid scientific theory.

    The history of the Holocaust is fairly well documented by far better historians than you, I’d imagine, so why would we need to deny anything? What we would like to see is a assessment that doesn’t cheapen the memory of several million people who were murdered. Your smug indignation is frankly sickening in that light.

  70. #70 Damian
    April 24, 2008

    Forget that last post. I hadn’t refreshed in a while.

    Anthony McCarthy, would you care to argue with anything in these posts:

    Darwin and the Holocaust – what’s the real story?

    Darwin and the Holocaust 2: Christians and Jews

    Darwin and the Holocaust 3: eugenics

    ..and if there is anything, what specifically (backed with evidence, of course)?

    I don’t necessarily disagree that the history is complex, but you haven’t provided any specific evidence of a logical connection between a scientific theory (is) and Eugenics (ought), or that Darwin himself was a supporter of such ideas. You know as well as I do that Eugenics was a popular idea many years ago, but that isn’t what we are arguing against, and you seem to be making a serious category error with your reasoning.

  71. #71 Tyler DiPietro
    April 24, 2008

    Regardless of the historical merit of the assertion, I find it very fascinating that certain people think of the fact that an early and relatively unsophisticated form of a biological theory as an adequate argument against its modern descendant. This whole discussion seems to me to be entirely superfluous to the relevant issues, which is whether evolution is true or not (an issue not in serious dispute among scientists).

  72. #72 Tyler DiPietro
    April 24, 2008

    Regardless of the historical merit of the assertion, I find it very fascinating that certain people think of the fact that an early and relatively unsophisticated form of a biological theory [was used to prop up odious socio-political notions] as an adequate argument against its modern descendant. This whole discussion seems to me to be entirely superfluous to the relevant issues, which is whether evolution is true or not (an issue not in serious dispute among scientists).

    (Corrected)

  73. #73 Anthony McCarthy
    April 24, 2008

    I’ve come to the conclusion that the word “quote mining” is a sure sign of someone who is trying to deflect attention from something they don’t want to deal with.

    Uh, Damian, I’m pretty familiar with that paragraph, you didn’t go to the end of it where he talks about the good being more to be hoped for than expected, looks like you just did a bit of mining yourself. At least I gave an entire paragraph. Practicing something in the same post you accuse someone of doing it, not the brightest move on your part.

    Apparently Charles Darwins’ son “quote mined” his own father, and he was hardly the only one.

  74. #74 Tyler DiPietro
    April 24, 2008

    “…you didn’t go to the end of it where he talks about the good being more to be hoped for than expected, looks like you just did a bit of mining yourself.”

    Actually, he says such about the supposedly dysgenic agents refraining from marriage or reproduction. That certainly isn’t Darwin’s best moment, but he nonetheless still did not advocate or attempt to excuse totalitarian eugenics practices. Whether he would have disapproved of those implemented several decades after his death is something on which we can only speculate.

  75. #75 Anthony McCarthy
    April 24, 2008

    Tyler, somewhere here I said that he couldn’t have predicted a form of fascism that arose half a century after his death and to say that Darwin was a proto-Nazi was absurd. If you guys are going to address what I’ve said, at least address what I’ve said instead of what I haven’t said.

    I don’t think that the passive eugenics that Darwin talks up is much of an improvement over the active eugenics that his son wished Democratic governments would allow. But as he said he was inspired by his father and he actually knew and talked to his father, unlike you or Damian or Canyon or anyone else, I guarantee you that it will be assumed that Leonard knew what his father would have approved of. Whether or not you or anyone else finds that assumption desirable or pretends it isn’t a legitimate conclusion for someone to draw. Darwinism today is a political manifestation, it has nothing to do with science or due process, which would not be afforded the dead Darwin anyway.

    You are almost right about what Darwin thought was to be wished for but not expected, I was right that Damian was guity of what he accused me of doing.

    Was Darwin “quote mining” whenever he quoted people? How about Thomas Huxley who constantly picked apart the opponents of Darwinism on the basis of selected quotes. How about Richard Dawkins, who doesn’t do it nearly as well but probably does it much more often.

    “Quote mining” is a phony dodge created by people who want to have to play by special rules instead of the ones everyone else follows. But only for the side they oppose.

  76. #76 Tyler DiPietro
    April 24, 2008

    “If you guys are going to address what I’ve said, at least address what I’ve said instead of what I haven’t said.”

    I never accused you of any of that. You have been accused of distortion and mischaracterization of Darwin as well as citing false authorities.

    “I don’t think that the passive eugenics that Darwin talks up is much of an improvement over the active eugenics that his son wished Democratic governments would allow.”

    And your personal opinion is pretty much irrelevant. FYI, I actually share it. Regardless of this agreed upon point, Darwin explicitly rejected such totalitarian policies. Implication to the contrary is simply dishonest.

    “But as he said he was inspired by his father and he actually knew and talked to his father, unlike you or Damian or Canyon or anyone else, I guarantee you that it will be assumed that Leonard knew what his father would have approved of.”

    Your guarantee is hollow and irrelevant. Memories fade, people have confirmation bias, are prone to wishful thinking and probably have an incentive to exploit the memory of a relative that whose memory is regarded among their peers in society. Their judgment on the matter is not authoritative.

    “You are almost right about what Darwin thought was to be wished for but not expected,…”

    I was actually exactly right. From that exact paragraph of The Descent of Man.

    “We must therefore bear the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely that the weaker and inferior members of society do not marry so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage, though this is more to be hoped for than expected.”

    It appears that, much like children believe covering their eyes prevents a third-person from seeing them, you think putting-up an act of smug self-certitude prevents you from being wrong. I find your behavior more amusing than anything.

    “I was right that Damian was guity of what he accused me of doing.”

    It didn’t distort the overall point of the paragraph. Darwin wasn’t advocating totalitarian eugenics policies, and his disavowal of such practices is important for context. Your failure to note such and deal with the issue in advance (since you admit the foresight of it coming up) is conspicuous, but probably excusable.

  77. #77 Anthony McCarthy
    April 25, 2008

    Memories fade

    Funny how many of the memories of the close associates of Darwin all seemed to fade in the same direction, eugenics.

    Tyler, it’s always an education to see how clueless the Scienceblog crowd is about these things, but not very important.

  78. #78 Grant Canyon
    April 25, 2008

    “Oh, so now you not only know more about Charles Darwin than his own son…”

    No, I never said that I did. But I guess since you don’t have any snappy Discovery Institute talking points to counter the argument I made, so, like a dirty politician (like all of your fellow creationists — dirty politicians, all), you answered the argument you wished I had made, rather than the one I actually did make.

    So I’ll repeat it one last time, for you and your fellow fuckwit creationists: even if everything you say is true, and we could prove for a fact that not only was Charles Darwin an eugenicist, but he was the world’s most vocal and heartfelt advocate of eugenics and every other eugenicist claims inspiration from Darwin, it would not change the fact that Darwinism — the theory of evolution of natural selection — has nothing to do with eugenics, except as a matter of loose analogy or the kind of moronic lunk-headed ignorance that makes people like you make meaningless statements about “correcting an interruption of natural selection.” Facts are facts, and opinions can’t change them. Your, Dalton’s or Leonard Darwin’s opinion cannot change the fact that Darwinism is limited to natural selection, while eugenics is an application of artificial selection. Your refusal to even address this point establishes the limits to your credibility and your lack of character.

    “And yet you tell me I’m delusional.”

    Because you are delusional, as your posts have proved. And, anyway, “delusional” was nicer than “pathetic asshole” but if you prefer the latter, that is on you.

    But since you are firmly wedded to your misconceptions, lies and slander, there is no point in discussing this matter further and I’m finished wasting my time with you.

  79. #79 gerald spezio
    April 25, 2008

    It can be claimed as factually true that Ben Stein has spent the majority of his life and energy developing the “skills” of public relations, lawyering, linguistic obfuscation, media hype, and outright distortion peddling.

    Whether Ben is pushing anti-evolutionism, anti-Darwinism, anti-science in general, the Holocaust, working for the Israel Lobby, or pandering to the creationist flock should not surprise any objective scientific observer.

    Should we waste of brains agonizing about the “Freudian” implications of the “actors” in this video of UNITED CHRISTIANS FOR ISRAEL – aka the rapture humans?
    http://maxblumenthal.com/archives/176

  80. #80 gerald spezio
    April 25, 2008

    We could agonize whether Max Blumenthal is a crypto front man for Iran and murderous Islamofascism, just another atheist hack knocking the Lord Jesus, a self-hating Jew like Norman Finkelstein, or just a smart ass frat boy who knows the media and will hurt good Christian’s feelings as he works his way up in framing studies?

    Feelings and stories are the key, Man!

  81. #81 Anthony McCarthy
    April 25, 2008

    Grant Canyon, Discovery Institute? It would be a funny place for someone who has said here that ID has no place in science.

    Some people think, others rearrange prejudices. Then there are the blog Darwinists who don’t even arrange them. It’s always so interesting to see the best minds of scientism in action. Or maybe that should be inaction.

  82. #82 Tyler DiPietro
    April 25, 2008

    “Funny how many of the memories of the close associates of Darwin all seemed to fade in the same direction, eugenics.”

    *Shakes head*

    Low-hanging fruit is all you are, Anthony. Your goal seems to be more along the lines of ruffling-feathers than making a compelling argument. I’m done with you.

  83. #83 Anthony McCarthy
    April 25, 2008

    Tyler, if you don’t read up the thread and see the arguments I made, it’s not my fault. If you expect me to repeat them, you are asking me to waste my time at your convenience.

    I didn’t expect you would be interested in the evidence that Galton and Leonard Darwin are the strongest authorities on Charles Darwin’s role in inspiring eugenics, it doesn’t fit in with your program. But that doesn’t mean that other people aren’t willing to look.

    Evolution needs to be wrested from the hands of the Darwin cult or it’s going to go down even more. The Darwin cult isn’t interested in science, it’s interested in PR.

  84. #84 Tyler DiPietro
    April 25, 2008

    I said I was done, but there is a final note that I really can’t resist, as we see our little self-satisfied friend bravely accuse others of his own sins:

    “The Darwin cult isn’t interested in science, it’s interested in PR.”

    From another thread:

    “Yes, it is unprovable, that’s not going to make a single bit of difference politically. And that is just too bad.”

    “Colugo, you know that what really matters isn’t what I think, it’s what people who are skeptical about Darwin to begin with would need to be won over. With two-thirds of Americans not accepting evolution, the number constantly whined about by the Darwin partisans, what you really should ask yourselves is how much is evolution worth to you. Is it worth it to rescue to the mythic, and long dead, Charles Darwin which was never accurate to begin with?”

    And yet further down:

    “I don’t care if you keep your fantasies about St. Charles Darwin to yourselves if you could keep them out of leftist politics because you are costing us politically. The guy was a figure of the Anglo-Saxon establishment who gave the wealthy the good news that they were the crown of creation and that the poor dross were doomed anyway so they could keep their money to themselves. The guy was no hero of the left except to the clueless who fall for the Darwin industry myths. That the political right was also able to create a Darwin industry useful to their political tactics wasn’t difficult, he supplied them with the raw materials and there has been a steady stream of new stuff supplied by clueless Darwinists right up to the next losing junk that comes out of Richard Dawkins pie hole.”

    Just curious, Anthony: are you deliberately trying to make yourself look ridiculous?

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