Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Crash Landing

Here's another little drive-by snarking at David Klinghoffer. I know ... but it's so easy and things are such in my life right now that I don't have the time or the energy to expend on anything more challenging at the moment.

Klinghoffer is out to defend his latest attempt to blame every bad thing that's happened in the last 150 years on Darwin. Having strayed from the friendly (and commentless) confines of the Discovery Institute's "blog" ("The misreporting of the evolution issue is one key reason for this site"), he is getting raked over quite well on his home turf.

But there's one little area I'd like to address:

Darwinism's social record is simply and nothing more than a good reason to take a second look at the science behind it.

This is a constant refrain of Klinghoffer's. For some reason, he seems to think that because something is put to bad use, that raises questions about its underlying truth.

Let's look at that. On September 11, 2001, two airliners were flown into the World Trade Center towers with much loss of life. A third was crashed into the Pentagon, also with a substantial death toll. What's more, all around the world, at this very moment, airplanes are delivering bombs and missiles that are killing people, quite often innocent women and children.

Is our first impulse to question the science of aerodynamics and to doubt that airplanes can fly?


P.S. David, that isn't Darwin's tree you have up at your place. His is the one up there.

One of the problems in dealing with creationism is that the arguments have so many obvious faults that in responding to them one is tempted to address too many of them at once. Some of us are afraid that, in just addressing one of them, the observer may think that the rest of them are being conceeded.

In the case of this thing about the supposed evil consequences of "darwinism", it is so easy to point out that one of the signature features that distinguishes modern science from pre-science is that science avoids drawing value lessons from nature. No more do we think of the inheritance of "blue blood" conferring "nobility".

But there is another important point, which is that in the early 20th century, when these various social/political movements flourished, Darwin's influence in science was in the "eclipse of darwinism". These movements were not even misusing "darwinism", they were ignorant of, indifferent to, or even opposed to concepts like "random variation and natural selection".

Tom S.
That was my sneaky point about Haeckel's tree vs. Darwin's. As you know, Haeckel was what Peter Bowler calls a "pseudo-Darwinian" in spades.

Another line of argument that I've been meaning to develop (from Isaiah Berlin) is that Nazism actually arose out of Romanticism and Nationalism which, in turn, (as long as we are playing these long-distance blame games) had their roots in German Pietism, a hard-core sect of Protestism. those bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki...I guess we need to take a second look to see if E really equals mc squared. And if drunken kids can really fall to their deaths off frat house balconies, then clearly Newtons three laws need to be reassessed.
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