Respectful Insolence

What would Ben Stein say about this?

Yesterday, I wrote about what I thought to be a fairly amusing story. It was the story of one hapless candidate for the Republican nomination for Congress in a district in northwest Indiana whose excuses for giving a talk to the American National Socialist Workers Party’s Chicago celebration of Adolf Hitler’s 119th birthday last weekend can only be characterized as what in LOL Cat lingo one would call “EPIC FAIL” (he claimed he didn’t think people there were of a “Nazi mindset”). I’ve also written more than I now wish I had about the inherent dishonesty of Ben Stein’s claim in the movie Expelled! that “Darwinism” led directly to eugenics and the Holocaust. Stein’s obvious implication, when taken in context with the rest of the movie in which Darwinism is equated with atheism, was that accepting evolutionary theory as good science leads straight to atheism and Nazi-ism.

I wonder what Ben Stein would say if he learned that Tony Zirkle (the hapless Nazi sympathizer and anti-Semitic candidate in question) is is a devout Christian. Not only is he a devout Christian, but consistent with his faith he is a supporter of “intelligent design” creationism.

Oh, the irony!

Comments

  1. #1 Evan
    April 27, 2008

    You’re getting a little redundant in your last paragraph there…

  2. #2 Anthony McCarthy
    April 27, 2008

    I’d imagine Ben Stein wouldn’t say anything about it because no one in the corporate media is likely to put one of the members on the beta Republicans pundits list on the spot by asking them to account for it. Or, alternatively, if someone paid him to say something about it. The guy’s a political hooker, he doesn’t give it away. He’s no blogger, in other words.

    You’re getting a little redundant in your last paragraph there…
    Evan

    Hey, look how much he’s written in a short time, give him a break. Blogging isn’t conducive to spit polished prose.

    Speaking of which, Orac, I write one piece about this in a week and people are up in arms that I also wrote two others about Darwin this year because I’m writing too much about him, and you write four posts in a week and no one bats an eyelash. I don’t think I wrote even one piece about Darwin before this winter, so it’s not like he’s my favorite subject, either. I think that’s a double standard.

  3. #3 Anon
    April 27, 2008

    This guy is nuts.

    Check this out: http://www.tonyzirkle.com/campaign/Barack_Obama_Slave_Owner_Descendant

    What kind of a campaign website is this?

  4. #4 Nick Gardner
    April 27, 2008

    “Epic fail” isn’t “LOL Cat lingo”. :-(

  5. #5 Petri
    April 27, 2008

    Did it strike anyone else that Zirkle’s campaign website shares many of the wonderful qualities we’ve come to love from websites hawking woo?

    1. Terrible color scheme
    2. Confusing organization
    3. One ridiculously long homepage of verbal diarrhea

    It’s uncanny!

  6. #6 Orac
    April 27, 2008

    “Epic fail” isn’t “LOL Cat lingo”. :-(

    Really? If it isn’t derived from the famouls “FAIL” of LOL cats, then, please educate us where it came from.

    As for the “redundancy” comments, I remind readers that after three years of blogging, I have come to consider typo, grammar, and style flames to be among the lamest of lame comments. They do not impress me with your erudition and in fact serve only to irritate me. Consequently, I remind readers once again that, according to my unwritten comment policy, such comments are subject to deletion with extreme prejudice at my whim (usually when I’m in a cranky mood). So don’t bother with them.

    You have been warned. Again.

  7. #7 gerald spezio
    April 27, 2008

    Max Blumenthal’s powerful video at the recent Christians United for Israel conference is inescapable empirical evidence to help us understand the bizarre logic of Tony Zirkle, Ben Stein, James Hagee, Sen Joe Lieberman, and demands by anybody to murder innocent Iranians or murder anybody in the name of anything …

    http://maxblumenthal.com/archives/176

  8. #8 Dan S.
    April 27, 2008

    I write one piece about this in a week and people are up in arms that I also wrote two others about Darwin this year because I’m writing too much about him, and you write four posts in a week and no one bats an eyelash.

    To be fair, I don’t think it’s the frequency, but the content.

  9. #9 Anthony McCarthy
    April 27, 2008

    To be fair, I don’t think it’s the frequency, but the content.

    Posted by: Dan S.

    Then why didn’t you mention the content where I posted the piece? I’d be happy to have addressed that instead of the snarky response you gave. As for micro-biologist, Orac says it better than I would just now, read his answer just above yours.

  10. #10 AndyB
    April 27, 2008

    As much as it’s a hilarious campaign site, I doubt that Stein would say anything, or that he’d have to. There are bad apples on both sides of the fence, but that’s not to say that all creationists can be tarred with one brush.

    And yes, I’ve heard that the movie makes a Nazi analogy. But firing back in kind is sloppy thinking at best.

  11. #11 Shiritai
    April 27, 2008

    “And yes, I’ve heard that the movie makes a Nazi analogy. But firing back in kind is sloppy thinking at best.”

    It stops being an analogy when you speak at a Nazi rally.

  12. #12 has
    April 27, 2008

    More lulz here:

    http://scienceblogs.com/strangerfruit/2008/04/expelled_now_with_added_antise.php

    Or, as the LOLcats would put it: “Propaganda. You’re Doing It Wrong.”

  13. #13 gerald spezio
    April 27, 2008

    When my above post did not appear for some time, I jumped to conclusions about your new filtering policy and concluded that you would not publish it.

    I eat crow!

    You have never failed to publish anything that I have submitted.

    Your policy of openness is impeccable.

  14. #14 andrea
    April 27, 2008

    Orac,

    I was the one who posted the “EPIC FAIL” comment on the previous post (I got the term from my kid). Although the LOLcats have used the term, it originated in the online gaming community.

    I suspect that by the time I am familiar with a slang term, or that it becomes pervasive in the general online communities, that it is no longer “hip”* and on the way out, or has become deadly common and cliche’d.

    But there are some terms that just beg to be kept in circulation, presuming they can avoid hyperbolic overuse. So much of the pseudoscience and denialism exemplifies Epic Fail that it’s as though they were made for each other.

    andrea
    * Or whatever it is they call “hip” nowadays

  15. #15 Janine
    April 27, 2008

    Let us apply Ben Stein style Expelled logic here. We know that Nazis and Neo-Nazis are atheist followers of Darwin. Tony Zirkle has stated that he has spoken in front of a black audience before. Therefore, he is also capable of speaking in front of an atheist audience like neo-Nazis in order to get his message out about Jewish porn meisters murdering the wombs of white christian women.

    There is no controversy here. Nor are there any contradictions. This is yet an other immoral atheist trying to smear the good name of a fine christian like Tony Zirkle and failing to heed the wise words of a towering intellect like Ben Stein.

    (As an preemptive strike upon anyone who happens to take this seriously, anyone who claims I am defending Ben Stein shall be shot.)

  16. #16 Ben Gorman
    April 27, 2008

    As Michael Ruse notes, many modern day advocates of Darwinism are merely promoters of aetheism in disguise.

    Darwinism=>Aetheism=>Eugenics=>Naziism are all flawed philosophies simmering in the same stew. That’s a fact.

    Moreover, the leap from Eugenics to Naziism is not hard to make. The Eugenicists thought they were doing good; were eradicating the malignant offspring from society and the gene pool. “Three generations of imbeciles is enough” belowed Oliver Wendell Holmes from the US Supreme Court, in upholding sterilization laws in the USA.

    The Nazis simply expanded and compounded the pseudo-science of Eugenics. Why sterilize the feeble-minded, the outcasts, the dispossessed, the different, in short, the weak? Why not simply round them up into concentration camps and gas them? This certainly would protect the Aryan gene pool more definitively than the various racial hygience, miscegenation and sterilization laws. Why beat around the bush?

    So, there can be no doutbt that Eugenics lead to Nazism. That’s historical fact. If you deny that, well, then you are dishonest, Orac.

    So, the question is, Did Darwinism lead to Eugenics? Not in my view from Origins of Species.

    But, Descent of Man, has some wild, wild philosophical and social observations. If you don’t believe me, read the chapter “On Races of the Man.”

    A short modest sample:

    Even a slight degree of sterility between any two forms
    when first crossed, or in their offspring, is generally considered as a decisive test of their specific distinctness; and their continued persistence without blending within the same area, is usually accepted
    as sufficient evidence, either of some degree of mutual sterility, or in the case of animals of some mutual repugnance to pairing.

    This is one of Darwin’s more benign general comments. It gets much worse, though. The man is setting the table for “cleansing the gene pool” by strongly discouraging superior member of the species from procreating with inferior members.

    Well, there’s a name for that: Eugenics. It’s no secret that Francis Galton — the nephew of Darwin –was the prominement promoter of Eugenics, along, of course, with Cold Spring Harbor, and the Rockefeller Institute, the scientific establishment of the day.

    The leap from Darwinism to Eugenics is easy to make.

    The leap from Eugenics to Nazism is easy to make.

    This is a two step historical connection that only the most willfully blind, myopic scientist could fail to appreciate.

  17. #17 Orac
    April 27, 2008

    So, there can be no doutbt that Eugenics lead to Nazism. That’s historical fact. If you deny that, well, then you are dishonest, Orac.

    Your understanding of history is questionable. Eugenics was not a necessary component of Nazi-ism. The Nazis embraced eugenics because it fit in with Hitler’s vision of “restoring” the volk and keeping the German race “pure,” but eugenics was neither fundamental or necessary to the Nazi philosophy. Indeed, eugenics flourished in many places where Nazi-ism never took hold. In fact, Hitler openly admired the eugenic programs in several states right here in the good ol’ USA. If eugenics leads to Nazi-ism, then why did the U.S. and the several European countries that embraced eugenics in the first decades of the 20th century not all become Nazi?

  18. #18 Ben Gorman
    April 27, 2008

    If eugenics leads to Nazi-ism, then why did the U.S. and the several European countries that embraced eugenics in the first decades of the 20th century not all become Nazi?

    Nice try. To answer your question: For the same reason that cigarettes does not lead to lung cancer in all smokers.

    Lemme phrase it in terms, you might understand, Orac:

    1. Do you deny the causal link between Darwinism and the Eugenics movement of the USA in the early 20th Century?

    2. Do you deny the causal link between the Eugenics movement of the USA in the early 20th Century and the rise of the Nazism in the 30′s and 40′s and their Final Solution?

    If Yes, then you are a Denialist.

    If No, then you basically agree with Ben Stein. Which is it?

  19. #19 Tyler DiPietro
    April 27, 2008

    “1. Do you deny the causal link between Darwinism and the Eugenics movement of the USA in the early 20th Century?

    2. Do you deny the causal link between the Eugenics movement of the USA in the early 20th Century and the rise of the Nazism in the 30′s and 40′s and their Final Solution?”

    You missed a few steps. Namely, you forgot to mention the clear link between Darwin’s finch watching habits and the development of Darwinism. Finch watching is unambiguously at the root of all late 19th. and early 20th. century atrocities.

  20. #20 Colugo
    April 27, 2008

    Eugenics does not necessarily lead to neither Nazism nor genocide, but racial hygiene (including eugenics) was an integral part of Nazism and the manner in which the Holocaust was implemented and rationalized by the Nazis.

    In any case, a frightening truth is that Nazi biopolitics were not as far removed from the mainstream of that era’s science and medicine as we might like to believe.

    Oral History of Human Genetics Project, Timeline of Medical Genetics, 1900-2000 (John Hopkins & UCLA):

    “1921: Erwin Baur, Eugen Fischer, and Fritz Lenz published Menschliche Erblichkeitslehre und Rassenhygiene*, which became the bible of human genetics instruction in Europe and the U.S., as well as the handbook to the Nazi eugenics program.”

    *Human Heredity and Racial Hygiene

    Fischer was one of Josef Mengele’s mentors.

    Robert N. Proctor, Nazi Medicine and Public Health Policy, 1996:

    http://www.adl.org/Braun/dim_14_1_nazi_med.asp

    “Why did nearly half of all German physicians join the Nazi party? …

    The Nazi state was supposed to be a hygienic state; Nazism was supposed to be “applied biology” (Fritz Lenz coined this phrase in 1931). Hitler was celebrated as the “great doctor” of German society and as the “Robert Koch of politics” … The seductive power of National Socialism for many physicians lay in its promise to cleanse German society of its corrupting elements — not just communism and Jews, but also metallic lead and addictive tobacco, along with homosexuality and the “burdensome” mentally ill. …

    Ute Deichmann in her book, Biologists Under Hitler … shows that the majority of biologists in the Thirties and early Forties joined the Nazi party; but it was still quite possible for non-Nazi biologists to obtain grants … I would argue that biology prospered under the Nazis because it was so integral to their worldview. …

    It took a lot of medical enthusiasm to forcibly sterilize 350,000 Germans, to “euthanize” 70,000 people with physical or mental handicaps in gas chambers. … And there were the medical crimes committed in the concentration and death camps. Among doctors, there were far more volunteers than victims, more partisans than pawns.”

  21. #21 gerald spezio
    April 27, 2008

    Ben Gorman, please consider that you are making an existence and causal statement when you posit that Darwinism is “causally linked” with eugenics.

    Yes, Darwinism is obviously “linked.”

    But, not causally linked.

    I assuredly agree that Darwinism was used unscrupulously, by all manner of people, including some scientists, to justify eugenics – it did not “cause” the eugenics movement – as pneumococci cause pneumonia.

    Yes, even Darwin made some statements that were easily manipulated into justifications for selective control of humans, as some bloggers have shown.

    This is similar to claiming that anti-Semitism “causes” the Palestinians to become suicide bombers – which conveys zero information.

    Or that anti-Semitism “caused” the Holocaust – also conveying zero information.

  22. #22 gerald spezio
    April 27, 2008

    DiPietro is one smart wop.
    But it was female finch watching that caused Ben Stein to go into public relations after law school; and that, in turn, caused Ben’s agonizing brain damage – as well as the terrible damage wrought by law school.

  23. #23 Orac
    April 27, 2008

    Eugenics does not necessarily lead to neither Nazism nor genocide, but racial hygiene (including eugenics) was an integral part of Nazism and the manner in which the Holocaust was implemented and rationalized by the Nazis.

    Key word: “rationalized.” Racial hygiene provided a convenient pseudoscientific justification and methodology for the Nazis to do what they wanted to do anyway, which is why they latched onto it so eagerly.

  24. #24 Liesl
    April 27, 2008

    The phrase “causal link” between eugenics and Darwinism explains the very reason for the ineptitude of the Darwin leads to Nazism idea. If nature has a cause (Darwin) it has a cause that is nothing more than natural. If man uses a cause (eugenics) he does so through his will. The recognition of cause in nature and cause in the actions of man are two separate things. If you continue down the path of causality in man you will end up with a big ball of conspiracy for everything we do. For example: George Bush went to Yale, right? Does that mean that Yale causes people to want to invade Iraq? Maybe he learned about the region in a political science or history class and it became a pet cause of his, somewhere he wanted to visit someday. It might have been a circuitous route, but the way he chose to get there was to become president and invade it.

    Doesn’t work, does it? You can find cause anywhere you want to find it; some of those connections are logical, some are not. Expelled? yeah, not so much with the logic.

  25. #25 Ben Gorman
    April 27, 2008

    Racial hygiene provided a convenient pseudoscientific justification and methodology for the Nazis to do what they wanted to do anyway, which is why they latched onto it so eagerly.

    Not quite, but close. The question isn’t whether Eugenics always leads to Nazism.

    The question is, Did the discreet Eugenics movement of the USA lead to the discreet Nazi movement in Germany?

    You beat around the bush, tinker at the edges, and all but concede this assertion in your last post. The Nazis took the worst ideas of American Eugenics, supercharged them and conducted an unspeakable Holocaust. So, that’s the second link in the historical chain: Eugenics=>Nazism.

    From all that I’ve studied, Darwin was a noble scientist, but created some fertile ground in Descent of Man for some terrible ideas.

    Galston probably acted with noble intentions, but did horrible things (forced sterilizations of the outcasts of society).

    Hitler took the same philosophical thread, added ignoble intentions to it (dominate Europe, purge non-Aryan blood from the gene pool) and a large technologically advanced army to the mix. We’ve seen the results.

    Darwin=>Eugenics=>Nazism is kinda similar to Marx=>Lenin=>Stalin.

    Why do you continue to deny this, Orac?

  26. #26 shortie
    April 27, 2008

    Hey, Ben, wasn’t there once a marketing technique labeled “kill them with kindness,” which should never have been said, because Hitler thought it was an order from Jesus?
    Christianity=>marketing=>Naziism=>holocaust.

  27. #27 pedlar
    April 27, 2008

    Darwin=>Eugenics

    Oh. My. Dog. When will you people learn the difference between NATURAL selection and ARTIFICIAL selection? Darwin discovered and developed the principle of NATURAL selection. Eugenics is the application – to people – of ARTIFICIAL selection. You know, the stuff practised by farmers for at least 10,000 years. For breeding cattle and corn. You’ve heard about that?

    Farming=>Eugenics=>Nazism. Bloody farmers.

  28. #28 Dan S.
    April 27, 2008

    But, Descent of Man, [link; "wikipedia -ds]has some wild, wild philosophical and social observations. If you don’t believe me, read the chapter “On Races of the Man.”

    A short modest sample:

    Anthony will no doubt take this as evidence of deranged Darwin-culthood on my part, but while (as has been pointed out) there are genuinely disturbing passages in TDOM, this isn’t one of them – in fact, it describes a fairly basic (if even today uncertain) test of ‘special distinctiveness’ – that is, whether two organisms are distinct species. Whether the different ‘races’ of humans were in fact different species was an open (and not merely academic!) question at the time, and of course the EvilRacistMonster Darwin concluded that . . . all humanity was a single species. (In contrast to, for example, one of the last great creationist scientists, the brilliant and deeply racist Louis Agassiz). And according to wikipedia, “Darwin reasoned that most of the visual differences between human races were superficial–issues of skin color and hair type–and that most of the mental differences were merely cases of “civilization” or a lack of it.” Not especially bad for the 1870s.

    There’s something to be said for accuracy, not least in the face of (often ideologically motivated) misstatements. Likewise, one might dispute, say, claims that Marx regularly ate babies for breakfast (and sometimes afternoon tea), especially if folks were ranting about how how liberalism was really just marxism and hence baby-eating.

  29. #29 gerald spezio
    April 27, 2008

    Ben you wrote;

    “The leap from Darwinism to Eugenics is easy to make.”

    Too easy …

    And you wrote this “leap.”

    “The leap from Eugenics to Nazism is easy to make.”

    Too, too, easy …

    Are Darwinism, eugenics, & racism the “causes” of the holocaust occurring now in Iraq & Palestine?

    As scientists, we are supposed to be seeking the causal chains to the problem at hand in order to solve that problem, no es verdad?

    If I claim that Israel’s Zionist designs to exterminate the indigenous Palestinians & settle the Palestinian’s land are “critical “variables” in the ongoing carnage in Palestine & Iraq; I am routinely attacked for anti-Semitism.

    The empirical evidence of a material & quantifiable genocidal campaign and blatantly obvious land grab by the Israelis in Palestine during the last sixty years cannot be missed by any objective observer.

  30. #30 DLC
    April 27, 2008

    Okay, for the slow in the class:

    Darwin =/= Eugenics.

    That’s Darwin does not equal eugenics.

    As has been pointed out, Eugenics is not evolution by natural selection it is evolution by artificial selection.

  31. #31 Tyler DiPietro
    April 27, 2008

    “DiPietro is one smart wop.”

    I prefer dago, actually. ;-)

  32. #32 Jud
    April 27, 2008

    Ben Gorman wrote: The Nazis took the worst ideas of American Eugenics, supercharged them and conducted an unspeakable Holocaust. So, that’s the second link in the historical chain: Eugenics=>Nazism.

    The Nazis took algebra, supercharged it and calculated V2 trajectories into London. Algebra is incontrovertibly a link in the historical chain that resulted in the Blitz. Algebra=>Nazism.

    From all that I’ve studied, Darwin was a noble scientist, but created some fertile ground in Descent of Man for some terrible ideas.

    From all that I’ve studied, the ancient Greek and Arabic mathematician/philosophers had noble goals, but created some fertile ground in their ancient texts for some terrible ideas.

  33. #33 Cath
    April 27, 2008

    People who want to help evolution along by means of eugenics are using exactly the same logic as people who want to help gravity along by throwing people out of windows.

  34. #34 Dan S.
    April 27, 2008

    people who want to help gravity along by throwing people out of windows.

    Defenestrationism!

  35. #35 Colugo
    April 28, 2008

    One thing is that interesting about all of this is that a third of a century ago evolutionary biologists were accused of having views related to those of the Nazis.

    But it was not all evolutionary biologists, just a subset of them, and many of their accusers were themselves biologists.

    Remember the Sociobiology Wars? The ‘Nazi taint’ theme continued for a while. Darwinism itself was characterized as originating in Victorian selfishness. Sociobiologists were accused of advocating or at least giving aid and comfort to ‘might makes right’, nihilism, eugenics, racism. Sound familiar?

  36. #36 SteveM
    April 28, 2008

    The question isn’t whether Eugenics always leads to Nazism.

    The question is, Did the discreet Eugenics movement of the USA lead to the discreet Nazi movement in Germany?

    You beat around the bush, tinker at the edges, and all but concede this assertion in your last post. The Nazis took the worst ideas of American Eugenics, supercharged them and conducted an unspeakable Holocaust. So, that’s the second link in the historical chain: Eugenics=>Nazism.

    No, the question is, “without the previous Eugenics movements, would the Holocaust have still happened?” I think that it would have regardless. There were many reasons for Hitler’s slaughter of the Jews, not just Eugenics.

    But Algebra and Newton’s Laws of motion, without those there would have been no V-2′s raining down on London. Those must be the true roots on Nazism. We must stamp out the dreaded curse of Newtonism! (We are already working on the source of algebra)

  37. #37 SteveM
    April 28, 2008

    oops, sorry, formatting hiccup. The quoted section ends after “Eugenics=>Nazism” and my reply begins with “No, the question is …”

  38. #38 Jesse
    April 28, 2008

    When will you people learn the difference between NATURAL selection and ARTIFICIAL selection?

    They never will, Pedlar. It’s much easier for them to try to blame Nazi atrocities on ‘a godless atheist’ than accept the truth that Hitler just wanted to kill Jews and tried to get people on board by bastardizing a form of science so badly it’s largely unrecognizable.

    There is a difference between natural (or even artificial) selection and genocide. Darwin had the foresight to see how evolution could be used to artificially shape the human gene pool through genocide. It by no means meant that he advocated, approved of, or condoned it.

  39. #39 Colugo
    April 28, 2008

    “Darwin had the foresight to see how evolution could be used to artificially shape the human gene pool through genocide.”

    So did this individual:

    “It is the same great law of “the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life,” which leads to the inevitable extinction of all those low and mentally undeveloped populations with which Europeans come in contact. …

    … it must inevitably follow that the higher–the more intellectual and moral–must displace the lower and more degraded races, and the power of “natural selection”, still acting on his mental organisation, must ever lead to the more perfect adaptation of man’s higher faculties to the conditions of surrounding nature, and to the exigencies of the social state. … (T)ill the world is again inhabited by a single homogeneous race, no individual of which will be inferior to the noblest specimens of existing humanity.”

    “It by no means meant that he advocated, approved of, or condoned it.”

    Someone should tell this guy:

    “I could show … natural selection having done and doing more for the progress of civilization than you seem inclined to admit. …. Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world.”

    This is more of a sober acknowledgment of inevitability and noting the salubrious effects than it is pro-genocide per se. But it is troubling.

    Some of you know which two people wrote these passages. My point is this: intellectual and ideological history and influences are complex, multifaceted, nuanced. Not straight lines.

    The critics of Darwin and his circle are not entirely wrong. Neither are those who tie them to the modern eugenics movement, nor about the role of eugenics in Nazism entirely wrong. But their conclusions are wrong – the causal narrative is wrong. And of course, their motives are rotten. But as The Stranglers said, no more heroes. Or at least acknowledge their broken halos.

  40. #40 Wes
    April 28, 2008

    The “Darwin caused Eugenics” argument is bullshit. The concept of eugenics had been around since ancient Greece. All that guys like Galton (note that there is no “s” in that name) did was take an old idea and dress it up in modern sounding scientific language (kinda like creationism). This is a quote from the “Lycurgus” chapter of Plutarch’s Greek Lives, written around 120 AD–more than 1,700 years before Descent of Man–describing the breeding program enacted in Sparta:

    …Lycurgus also banished the vain, womanish feeling of jealousy by making it acceptable to share the business of procreating children with others of sufficient excellence…[S]uppose a man of high principles admired a woman who was married to someone else for her modesty and fine children: he could prevail upon her husband to let him sleep with her, so that he could sow his seed in rich and fertile soil, so to speak, and produce excellent children who would be blood relatives of others just as fine.

    The point is, first, that to Lycurgus’ way of thinking children did not belong to their fathers, but to the state in common; and so he wanted the citizens of the state to come from the best stock, not just any random parents. In the second place, he thought there was a great deal of stupidity and hypocrisy contained in others’ legislation on these matters, when people arranged for their bitches and mares to be mounted by the best males by prevailing upon their owners in the name of friendship or paying them, but kept their wives guarded under lock and key, claiming that they and they alone had the right to have children by them, whether they, the husbands, were idiots or dotards or invalids. This, as far as Lycurgus was concerned, was to ignore the fact that children born from bad parents are bad above all for those who have them and bring them up, and that on the contrary it is children who are lucky enough to have good parents who are good for those who have them and bring them up. This conduct of theirs was originally both natural and in the best interests of the state… –Plutarch. Greek Lives. Oxford University Press, Oxford. 1998, pg. 24

    In terms of philosophy, you’ve got everything in there you need for a eugenics program, including the analogy with artificial selection in domestic animals which earlier posters have noted. The idea of trying to breed a better race of people has been around since antiquity. It requires zero understanding of evolution to understand that breeding “better” individuals and preventing “worse” individuals from breeding makes for “better” offspring.

    So that means that, according to Ben Gorman’s distorted logic, Sparta => eugenics => Nazis. I guess the movie 300 ought to be banned (or balanced with a creationist version in which Jesus defeats the Persians).

  41. #41 Militant Agnostic
    April 29, 2008

    Christian fundamentalists and YECs also supported Eugenics. In the Province of Alberta, the Social Credit Government led by “Bible Bill” Aberhart (who were nearly all Creationists) enacted the Alberta Eugenics Act which resulted in the forced sterization of many people who were considered (often erroneously) to be metally handicapped. This reprehensible act remained in force until the Socreds were defeated by the Progressive Conservatives in 1971.

    Whacky Economic Theories + Creationism => eugenics => Nazis

  42. Hitler did not believe in the Darwinian theory of evolution. He was a Lamarkianist. Therefore, Lamark, whose theory preceded that of natural selection, caused the Nazis. By your logic.

  43. Stephen Jay Gould, one of evolution’s best science writers until his death, researched the story of the girl about whom whom Oliver Wendell Holmes was speaking, and pointed out that she maintained a B+ average in school when the schools were more demanding than they are now. She never was a moron or an idiot, but simply a girl that someone found inconvenient or troublesome.

    And Ben Gorman, Darwin was not advocating eugenics in the passage you quoted; he was trying to explain how different groups could become varieties and in the future, possibly separate species, with intermediate forms absent. No course of action was being advocated.

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