Stranger Fruit

Well it’s official, Steve Fuller (see here, here, here and here) has officially joined the ID echo-chamber that is Uncommon Descent. He will, apparently, be arguing that “Darwinism is an undead 19th century social theory” indeed

stripped of its current scientific scaffolding, Darwinism is a 19th century social theory that has been turned into a ‘general unified theory of everything’, and as such belongs in the same category as Marxism and Freudianism. The big difference is that Marxism and Freudianism – throughout their existence – have been contested (many would say decisively) by several alternative ways of organizing and interpreting the same body of data. In the case of Darwinism, this largely ended by 1950. However, it doesn’t mean that Darwinism has somehow turned into something other than a 19th century social theory. No, it’s simply a 19th century social theory with unusual clout. Indeed, Darwinism is really no different from Marxism and Freudianism in using its concepts as rhetorical devices for associating intuitively clear phenomena with rather deep and mysterious causes. I hope to draw your attention to examples of this in the coming weeks.

As a starter, it is purely idiotic to state that “Darwinism” (whatever that may be) hasn’t been “contested” since the 1950′s. Does Fuller know anything about contemporary evolutionary biology? Would it be too much to expect him to pick up a textbook and learn that evolutionary biology is not “Darwinism” and that biologists actively investigate “alternative ways of organizing and interpreting the same body of data”? I guess so.

Stay tuned to Uncommon Descent for Fuller’s keen insight into contemporary evolutionary biology. Given his performance regarding the history and philosophy of biology has been so pathetic, this should be quite the thrill-ride.

Comments

  1. #1 Mike
    December 29, 2008

    So sad to lose one’s way so decisively. And all for a little acceptance by loons (and coins from them too no doubt). What sort of self-esteem issues could Fuller have to seek out the likes of DI and ID? IDiot.

  2. #2 J-Dog
    December 29, 2008

    This is indeed beautiful as Prof. Fuller violates the stringent, “Do Not Talk about Teh Designer Being God” is on the list of proscribed topics.

    Did DaveScot get a New i-Ban Button for Christmas?

    Will Dembski have to come out from where he is hiding (not the Baylor Cafeteria)to settle the Religious Wars that will soon breakout?

    Stay tuned as the Train Wreck of Tard continues.

  3. #3 rpenner
    December 29, 2008

    I am not TheYellowShark, currently comment number 10 (12/29/2008, 10:53 am) on Fuller’s post, but this kind poster clearly was thinking along my exact lines of thought as I parsed Fuller’s debut.

    “…stripped of its current scientific scaffolding, Darwinism is a 19th century social theory…”

    If you’re trying to make an argument about the scientific validity of evolutionary theory, why on earth would you consider it after it has been “stripped of its scientific scaffolding”?

    “Stripped of its current scientific scaffolding does intelligent design become a 21st century social theory?”

    I think most would argue that ID doesn’t have any scientific scaffolding, and that it’s actually a Bronze Age social theory.

  4. #4 Sigmund
    December 29, 2008

    OK, his understanding of modern evolutionary theory seems somewhat akin to my knowledge of the grammatical structure of Swahili but his second point about ID needing to confront the Pastafarianism problem may still be valid. Ignoring the nature of the ‘designer’, he points out, is problematic when others, even in jest confront the point.
    Indeed why just one designer?
    The monotheistic basis for ID seems unable to cope with the idea that the answer to their design argument could just as easily be that there are multiple designers. Their normal strategy is to ignore this question and it will be interesting to see if, by posing such points, Fuller causes more problems to them than he’s worth.

  5. #5 atom
    December 29, 2008

    I’ve read Fuller’s comment, and it seems to me he is simply referring to closure around the Neo-Darwinian synthesis, when he invokes 1950.

    And in any case, I’m puzzled about why you don’t complain about all the philosophers who use ‘Darwinism’ and ‘evolution’ interchangeably like Ruse and Dennett — and indeed, even the great Dawkins. Is it simply because they are ‘pro-Darwinism’ whereas Fuller is ‘anti-Darwinism’, whatever these phrases mean?

  6. #6 Mike P
    December 29, 2008

    Atom,

    I guess I’d have to see some of the examples you’ve seen from them. To my knowledge, Ruse and Dennett and Dawkins don’t use the terms interchangeably. They wouldn’t say that through a process of Darwinism, our primate ancestors gradually became Homo sapiens. They’re fully aware that biological evolution is the mechanism and Darwinism is just one historical phase in understanding that mechanism. However, it was and remains a momentous phase, and can sometimes serve as a metonym for evolution in certain cases, but certainly not in ambiguous cases. The difference is that Ruse, Dennett and Dawkins recognize this and don’t substitute the term unless they’re speaking metonymically or they are actually referring to a Darwinian mechanism of evolution, in which case the term is appropriate. The ID clowns treat the terms as if they’re the same.

  7. #7 atom
    December 29, 2008

    Well, Ruse has a book entitled ‘Can one be a Darwinian and a Christian?’ and Dennett’s ‘Darwin’s Dangerous Idea’ is about natural selection, quite specifically, as a kind of ‘universal solvent’ of thought. So in fact these guys do tend to lean heavily on Darwin’s contribution to evolutionary theory as the thing worth defending above all. I would have thought a mainstream evolutionary biologist would be rather uncomfortable with that.

    As for Fuller, well, I don’t think there’s anything in what he actually said that could justify the conflation you alleged. And I’ve read his books on these matters, and whatever you might want to say about them, he doesn’t conflate Darwinism and evolution and there either. It’s quite clear — at least to me — that he really is talking about Darwinism when he says ‘Darwinism’.

  8. #8 John Lynch
    December 29, 2008

    he doesn’t conflate Darwinism and evolution and there either. It’s quite clear — at least to me — that he really is talking about Darwinism when he says ‘Darwinism’.

    Ruse and Dennett are in no way representative of what biologists think, so let’s ignore them for the moment beyond noting that, as philosophers, they are used to using terms precisely and therefore when they say “Darwinism” they actually mean a subset of contemporary theory. *They* (again, as philosophers) may think that natural selection explains all, but that does not make it the case for biologists.

    Let’s assume Fuller (as a sociologist) actually knows that Darwinism (whatever he takes that to mean) is not the only game in town. Why then is he railing against it? I’m actually guessing the he doesn’t know enough about to contemporary evolutionary biology to realize how the field explains diversity.

  9. #9 guthrie
    December 29, 2008

    Woo hoo, more evidence that Fuller has lost the plot and can be mocked relentlessly. By now he has no credibility left. I look forwards to seeing his arguments (whatever the hell they are) being ripped to shreds.
    I assume AtBC are laying bets on how long Fuller will last…

  10. #10 RBH
    December 29, 2008

    Fuller is going to run aground with this sort of writing on UD:

    Second, amidst the boneheadedness and bigotry that characterise most attacks on ID, the ‘Flying Spaghetti Monster’ argument needs to be taken seriously. After all, what good is a theory of ‘intelligent design’ if it has nothing to say about the nature of the designer? ID supporters are susceptible to the charge of ‘Pastafarianism’ because of their reluctance to speak openly about God – understandably, in a scientific culture that is so actively hostile to the very idea. (Also, religious scruples are probably in play.) Nevertheless, the most natural way to make sense, say, Dembski’s ‘explanatory filter’ and Behe’s ‘irreducible complexity’ is as saying something about, respectively, God’s bandwidth and God’s building blocks. Moreover, these are things that people can argue about reasonably, using logic and evidence, just as they would about any other comprehensive explanatory principle, such as ‘natural selection’.

    Someone ought to forward him the ID memo about that. Besides, Dembski has already settled the bandwidth issue: God can inject “information” into the material universe via an infinite wavelength/zero energy (and therefore zero channel capacity) transmission link. See here for details.

  11. #11 John Phillips, FCD
    December 30, 2008

    Surprise, surprise, another tard who can’t make a big name for himself in his field legitimately decides on an illegitimate route. I suppose he thinks it better to be a big fish in a very small pond than a small fish in a very big pond and likely hopes that it will accrue more money and infamyfame in the process.

  12. #12 James F
    December 30, 2008

    Is it fair to say that the use of the term “Darwinism,” when not used disparagingly by the antievolution crowd (which accounts for the bulk of its usage), is often a UK vs. US distinction, e.g., with Dawkins and Ruse?

  13. #13 James F
    December 30, 2008

    Oh, and by the by: are there any biologists who are officially part of UD?

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