Friday, December 28, 2007

Politics & Threats To Science.

Like most people in this country I regard creationism as an intellectual absurdity, I was going to say I regard creationists as absurd but I realise that otherwise very intelligent people can sincerely believe ridiculous propositions, Isaac Newton and his belief in alchemy springs to mind. As long as they aren't aggressively trying to assert their idiotic beliefs I have no problem with them. Ramesh Ponnuru of the National Review has a post up about remarks made about evolution and creationism in politics by Marty Peretz of the New Republic:
He writes at the New Republic: "My minimum condition for and from a plausible president is that he accept that men and women are descended from apes and monkeys. Huckabee surely doesn't. But, then, I'm not sure that George Bush does either." Do scientists accept this either? Back when I was in high school, they taught us that apes, monkeys, and humans shared ancestors in common rather than that the last group evolved from the first two. It seems like an awfully imprecise way for Peretz to state a truth he considers so important.
This encapsulates a lot of the problems I have with those who sneer about the views held by certain people about creationism, usually they are just as ignorant and misguided about the science as the creationists themselves. The likes of Peretz who don't understand evolution but know that they are passionately supportive of it aren't a huge concern in any practical sense, they're just annoying. The real danger to evolutionary science comes not from creationists or the Peretzs of this world but rather from those who claim to believe in evolution but try to silence anyone who proposes that it may apply to humans as much as any other species.

E.O. Wilson's landmark book, Sociobiology, was met with immense hostility by the far left, including by supposed scientists Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin. He was variously physically attacked and smeared as a Nazi* by members of the far left under front groups like 'Science for the People' a totalitarian anti-science movement. Wilson's offence was to write a book about the biological origins of behaviour in animals, including humans whereas devout marxists like Lewontin believed that this blasphemes against Das Kapital. Whilst creationists and ID'ers believe errant nonsense they pose no serious threat to the advancement of science, the radical left on the other hand have a consistent track record of trying to derail politically inconvenient science.

* I don't endorse the whole contents of this site, I'm only linking to them because they have reproduced one of Wilson's essays.

2 comments:

TDK said...

There's some discussion of this subject over at Mick Hartley. I thought you made a good point so I linked to you.

Ross said...

Thanks for that.