Thursday, December 24, 2009


Blame Gamesmanship

David Klinghoffer has added to his rogue's gallery of "Darwinists."

In addition to Hitler, Stalin, Charles Manson, James Von Brunn (the lunatic white supremacist who shot up the Holocaust Museum), the Columbine shooters and, of all people, H.P. Lovecraft, Klinghoffer is now blaming Darwin for Josef Mengele.

Klinghoffer confuses "Social Darwinism" (not to mention the Discoveryless Institute's version of "Darwinism") with evolutionary theory, a point made by "Steven J.," a frequenter of Klinghoffer's commentariat, which regularly demolishes his rantings (leading, I suspect, to his often repeating them at the DI's commentless Ministry of Misinformation).

Klinghoffer disingenuously repeats his "Is/Ought" fallacy:

I'm tired of having to explain that an idea's having been put to an evil use, even if that occurred time after time for more than a century and a half, doesn't by itself make the idea a false description of reality. But if that is what happened, as it is here, it's an awfully good reason to think twice and carefully, for yourself, about the evidence said to underlie claims made on behalf of the idea.

It would be refreshing if Klinghoffer would explain once why use (particularly misuse) by any person of some fact about the world is any reason to doubt the fact.

Anyway, my yet-to-be-moderator-approved comment at Klinghoffer's blog is as follows:

Rober Bannister, in "Social Darwinism: Science and Myth in Anglo-American Social Thought" has shown that there was no such "thing" as "Social Darwinism" ... it was a term of abuse used by people of many political viewpoints ... liberal, conservative and everything in between ... to describe viewpoints they didn't like. Applying it to Nazis is nothing more than carrying on a disreputable tradition. Steven J.'s point, if I may make so bold, was that "Social Darwinism" (and your version of "Darwinism") is not the same thing as scientific evolutionary theory.

As to whether Mengele studying the Bible would have been trumpeted by anti-theists, are you actually arguing that two wrongs make a right? After all, we can certainly come up with examples of people who intensely studied the Bible who, over far more than a century and a half, did great wrongs ... Torquemada leaps to mind as one of many examples ... but is that reason to think twice and carefully about the evidence said to underlie claims made on behalf the Bible, rather than about the person who is supposedly "applying" it?

If so, the evidence for evolution far outstrips that for the Bible.

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