Saturday, December 16, 2006


Send in the Clowns

The Discovery Institute is showing signs of stress.

Jonathan Witt has an article up at Evolution News & Views, entitled "From Darwin to Hitler: A Straightforward Path to Horror," reporting on a review by a Jesuit priest, Edward T. Oakes, of Richard Weikart's book, From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany. Oakes' review is lame in its own ways, as shown by John Lynch at Stranger Fruit. But Witt, for his own part, states:

What is striking is how straightforwardly many of the horrors documented in Weikart's book follow from Darwinian principles -- e.g., the survival of the fittest populations (genocide), the great good that supposedly comes from natural selection eliminating the weak and defective (eugenics and forced sterilizations), the notion that humans are merely smart animals (moral pragmatism, which in turns underwrites not only genocide and eugenics but also even the cruelest kinds of human experimentation, provided they can further medical research).

Pat Hayes at Red State Rabble notes that Weikart, in an exchange of letters with Pat, denied that he draws a straight line between Darwin and Hitler in his book. He specifically admonished Pat:

... note my terminology carefully -- "played a key role." Nowhere do I claim -- and in the introduction of my book I specifically deny -- that Darwinism is the sole cause or sole factor behind Nazi ideology.

The conservative philosopher, Larry Arnhart, in his book, Darwinian Conservatism, also criticized Weikart as to the nature of any connection between Darwin and Nazism. Weikart published a written response to Arnhart's book. As Arnhart describes Weikart's reply:

He says that I "incorrectly allege that I argue a straightforward 'Darwin-to-Hitler'thesis." He accuses me of reading the book with "the (false) preconceived idea that my book argues for a direct line from Darwin to Hitler." To support this claim, he quotes from page 4 of his book: "Darwinism does not lead inevitably to Nazism." In other words, he argues that the thesis of his book is not accurately conveyed in the title -- From Darwin to Hitler -- which he says is "ambiguous."

Arnhart rightly says:

[Witt's article] directly contradicts Weikart's response to me saying that it is wrong to see his book as arguing for "a straightforward 'Darwin-to-Hitler' thesis."

I hope that Weikart will correct this interpretation of his book, and that the Discovery Institute will issue a retraction of its claims about his book.

All I can say is, if that happens, Beelzebub better have some long underwear.

This is, of course, just another application of the "wink, wink, nudge, nudge" tactic of the Discovery Institute and ID movement at large. Witt is surely aware of Weikart's thesis, given that they are both Fellows of the Center for Science & Culture. Weikart will be no more outraged by Witt's "false idea" of his book than the DI is outraged by the general public identifying the "Designer" as God. Weikart wants to maintain his academic standing by denying that he is making the insupportable claim of a direct connection of Darwin to Hitler while fully hoping his intended audience, aided and abetted by the likes of Witt and D. James Kennedy, whose execrable "documentary," Darwin’s Deadly Legacy, Weikart participated in, will make just such a connection.

On the positive side, with all the squirming the DI has been doing of late, what with Witt's piece, the resurrection of Richard Sternberg by the DI's tame congressman and the renewed assault on Judge Jones, including lame attempts at Monty Python-ish flash animations voiced by none other than the (self) vaunted "Isaac Newton of ID" himself, Wild Bill Dembski, the ID cause sounds to be in desperate shape.
Maybe as an act of kindness we should start mailing donations of red rubber noses to Seattle. Supplying them to the DI Fellows must be making a real dent in their budget.
It seems that John West of the DI has joined the floppy shoes brigade. As Ed Brayton reports over at Dispatches from the Culture Wars, West is in Agape Press claiming that Judge Jones has supposedly "clammed up" since that DI revealed that the Judge didn't just make the lawyers submit proposed findings of fact and law just to increase their billing. But, as Ed points out:
It is a lie to claim that Judge Jones has gone around the country "attacking anyone who criticizes" his ruling. A flat out baldfaced lie. The only criticism he has ever engaged is the unbelievably ignorant criticism that came from Phyliss Schlafly, and only then in the context of giving a civics lesson on how the courts operate in our constitutional system. The DI has spent almost all of their energy for the last year attacking the ruling and he has never even responded to them, much less attacked him.

But then the funny part:

Isn't it odd that they're claiming simultaneously that he attacks anyone who criticizes his ruling and that he's not responding to their criticisms? Consistency is hardly their strong suit, but hey, whatever it takes to cast aspersions on people. Who cares about little things like the truth?

Maybe the question should be "Who can even recognize it any more, after all the lies?"


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