Justin Fruhling wants a piece of me, too

Looks like I've got an editorial war on my hands. Yesterday I announced that my refutation of Brad Pironciak's "Social Darwinism" piece was printed in the college newspaper, The Daily Targum, and now I've received an editorial reply from English major Justin Fruhling. I don't have time to respond in full to his comments right now (you can read his piece here), but Fruhling's main complaint is that I didn't take "The Darwin Awards" or falling standardized test scores into account. Entirely missing the main point of my argument (intelligence is not wholly determined by inheritance and we should not try to weed out "undesirables"), Fruhling sides with Pironciak and suggests that if someone does something stupid and dangerous, they deserve to die. I really don't know who these students think they are, passing judgment on who is the "fittest" and who is not, but their callous attitude is disturbing.

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This is becoming ridiculous.

Look, we know IQ isn't a trait that's being actively selected for, because there isn't enough skew in the distribution. There's no particular reason to believe that we're getting any dumber or any smarter than we've ever been - there are some indications that we're getting better at abstractions, but that just means that we'll be abstractly dumb.

That these people are "passing judgement" isn't what's relevant - everyone passes judgement on all kinds of things, and you're doing it yourself right now. What matters is that their judgement is grossly wrong, and obviously so.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 31 Oct 2007 #permalink

I agree with you about us not becoming any more or less intelligent Caledonian, and I brought up the "passing judgment" issue just because it's hard for me to believe what these people are defending (although you're right in principle that I'm doing it myself, so I should have picked more exact terms for my point).

Eugenics - and I think this is what Pironciak and Fruhling are about - are crap.

The mere fact that something like an university exists proves that.
Universities as we know them were invented in Lombard northern Italy. And the Lombard who wrestled control of northern Italy from the Byzantines was Bertholde, a man that worked himself up from sideshow attraction and courtjester to prime minister.

it's amazing someone with such a misshapen, potato-shaped head such as yourself is even able to type, let alone have a blog.

By anonymous (not verified) on 31 Oct 2007 #permalink

This Justin Fruhling fellow is an English major ... in college?

One prime example of literary critique can be found in John Dewey's "The Decline of American Education." It goes into detail about, well, the decline of American education over the years, which is worth a read. I won't go into it, as it's more than 100 pages long, but it goes over the reports "A Nation at Risk" in 1983 and "A Nation Still at Risk" in 1998.

John Dewey must have had a little difficulty writing a whole 100 pages about reports from 1983 and 1998. Perhaps he meant (the easily checked) John Dewey and the Decline of American Education by Bob Cheeks?

And I suppose detail about the decline of American education "is worth a read," but could somebody take the time notify the local authorities of those little lost clauses wandering about unattended?

Isn't it funny how people who complain that it is "insulting how stupid people can be" invariably wind up proving their own point?

John; You're quite right, although I thought the best way to respond to these articles would be sticking to the facts and not attacking the poor writing style of my opponents. I issued a reply to Fruhling but it didn't appear in today's paper, so I either missed the deadline, the staff is sitting on it, or they've had enough of these shenanigans. I may post it here if it doesn't appear in tomorrow's edition, which should contain another editorial by Pironciak (I wonder if he'll reply to my commentary...).

What most concerns me about the works of Fruhling and Pironciak is that they don't understand evolution or natural selection at all, the pair attempting to use natural selection to support their own notion of "smart" vs. "stupid" as if it were the only evolutionary mechanism. Indeed, the Rutgers community doesn't seem especially concerned with understanding evolution, and while there are some courses taught on the topic at my university few people seem to care about the topic outside the classroom.

Probably the best way to respond WAS to stick to the facts, but I REALLY want to attack the poor writing style. Just a bit.

In the end, your writing, your argument and your tact win out. And your blog is brilliant.

"What most concerns me about the works of Fruhling and Pironciak is that they don't understand evolution or natural selection at all,"

Epic fail. I know exactly how both evolution and natural selection work. I'm not saying that stupid breeds stupid. I'm saying that some people are just hopelessly stupid. Obviously having inferior traits may be more likely to get you eaten by predators, but I'd imagine that it's a given that if you're a total moron, doing things like startling trigger-happy gunmen, then that won't help you survive either.

By Justin Fruhling (not verified) on 01 Dec 2007 #permalink

Justin; Thank you for commenting here, although I still don't think you're opinion holds any water. Intelligence is variable and is affected by environmental factors, so I don't think I would call anyone "hopelessly stupid." As I noted in my letter, the story that you have again cited probably didn't happen and many of the Darwin Awards are hoaxes or jokes, so basing your argument on discredited information doesn't help either.

Likewise, you assert in your editorial that you agree that safety labels should be removed from products to "thin out the herd" among those you deem to be inferior and "thank them for not reproducing." Even if we were to undertake such a eugenic program, "stupid" people would not go away for a variety of reasons, and I was a bit shocked at how cold your rationale was for suggesting that people of low intelligence somehow deserve to die. You didn't reference evolution directly as Brad did, but the idea that our own evolution or "improvement" was still implied in what you wrote. You even say in your comment that you don't think "stupid breeds stupid" but this is exactly what you state in your argument in the Targum periodical, so perhaps your original phrasing was worded wrong.

"As I noted in my letter, the story that you have again cited probably didn't happen and many of the Darwin Awards are hoaxes or jokes, so basing your argument on discredited information doesn't help either."

Well, I can believe that that the original story didn't happen, but I wasn't aware that the Darwin awards were hoaxes. How did you find this out?

"Even if we were to undertake such a eugenic program, "stupid" people would not go away for a variety of reasons, and I was a bit shocked at how cold your rationale was for suggesting that people of low intelligence somehow deserve to die."

It's not just a matter of low intelligence. People can be less intelligent than others. But if you're actually willing to ingest rat poison and somehow think that it won't harm you, then gee golly, I'll get you a second helping.

"You didn't reference evolution directly as Brad did, but the idea that our own evolution or "improvement" was still implied in what you wrote."

Well, I imagine it to be similar to evolution in that in nature, only the ones capable of surviving live on to reproduce. Humans break that rule by putting overly obvious safety labels on products, for example. I'm not saying that we should just shoot the stupid, but if someone dies from an action that no one would have even thought to warn against, being that the action could NEVER happen if you had half a brain, such as the rat poison example, then oh well. Granted, intelligence itself is mainly gained, as you say, from the environment, and not through the parents' genes. But even so, some mistakes are simply inexcusable once you're past age 5.

While it is true that stupid does not necessarily breed stupid, it is unfortunately true that stupid raises children if it reproduces. And, as mentioned, intelligence is mostly environmental. Well, now we have a kid living 100% of his time with a dumb parent. Well, that's no good, because the kid's not getting away until he gets to school, but even then, he lives with his parents for most of the time. THAT'S why I don't think dumb people should breed.

By Justin Fruhling (not verified) on 03 Dec 2007 #permalink

No one wants a "piece of you." You're a god damned loser who has the audacity to think people actually care about his shitty blog. Go eat a dick.

By Joe Schmo (not verified) on 20 Dec 2010 #permalink