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aka The Wrong Monkey
01:58 PM on 07/04/2010
I wish we had the option of flagging an article as abusive. When will the word get all the way around to the likes of Discovery Institute fellows that Darwinism and Social Darwinism are two completely different things, that Darwin fought against the srupid racist attitudes of his time?

I guess when you're opposed to someone but you have no real arguments, you have to either cease your opposition, or make stuff up.
Tim Ostrander
skeptic, humanist, father
01:28 PM on 07/04/2010
"The world had never seen anything quite like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or Pol Pot. And it was not only a matter of the technology available to them. Treating people as vermin to be exterminated was a new thing under the sun."

Seriously? Aren't the genocides recorded in "Holy" scripture on the same scale and the same attitude? We merely have to look at our genetic cousins to know why such atrocities are possible. The worldview you use to justify them is irrelevant.

Natural selection says how the world works, not how it should work. It is descriptive, not prescriptive.
Uncle Bob
Darwin loves you.
10:48 PM on 07/03/2010
this is what drives me batty about this subject. People seem to pretend that, until the theory of natural selection, there was no disparaging of ethnic groups anywhere.

Are you kidding?

This wasn't some new dilemma that magically appeared when Darwin put forward his opinion of natural selection. This was a long going debate between whites and all others, and Darwin's theory was just one of many excuses used to justify the common wisdom.

Darwin, believe it or not, was quite progressive for his time period. He was quite outspoken against slavery, and felt other ethnic groups were more "human" than most other groups. Not to say he wasn't racist, but you have to take it in relation to the "common wisdom" of the time.

We pretend that our current understanding of genetics and speciation has any bearing on the common wisdom back then. The common european thought all other ethnic groups were mere animals.....not because of the theory of Darwin, but because they truly thought their white skin and literacy and knowledge made them far superior. They thought those other groups were nothing more than animals long before Darwin came along.

Darwin might have given a false pedestal to stand on, but it was just the rehashing of what was already there. Anyone that pretends otherwise is totally ignorant of history.
10:21 PM on 07/03/2010
I stopped reading there
More chocolate, please.
12:24 AM on 07/05/2010
I read it, but I agree also. That is indicative of the aim of the article.
07:02 PM on 07/03/2010
This article is a complete misrepresentation of Darwin's work. I expect nothing less from the Discovery Institute.
04:29 PM on 07/03/2010
How do Magnets Work!!!111!!!
Teach the controversy!!!!111!!!
03:42 PM on 07/03/2010
Rubbish. Darwin and his family were abolitionists. If some "racist" references can be found in his writings it has more to do with the conventions of the times he lived in rather than his sentiments. There are many "racist" remarks that Lincoln made. No one of Darwin's background was immune from "racist" epithets in the mid-19th century. Some may have used certain aspects of Darwin's thought to justify their prejudices and reactionary beliefs and practices, but that has no baring on the scientific basis of his ideas.
08:33 AM on 07/03/2010
This article is an absolute disgrace. The "discovery" institute is nothing more than a creationist mouthpiece spouting outrageous falsehood that quotemines without shame. No matter how many times their lies are revealed, they press the reset button and start all over again.

The piffle regurgitated by Klinghoffer is the same [darwin = eugenics = racism = flawed theory] rubbish that gets spewed all over the internet for the unwary or ignorant who prefer soundbites instead of bothering to engage their own brains.

Evolutionary theory is not controversial, it is a FACT. Understanding even its basic principles requires a modicum of thought, but once attained, such knowledge is infinitely more transcendental and numinous than a burning bush. Science is hard, people. It is also considerably more enlightening than tired old ancient myths. The fact that it can be misused is not the fault of science, but a consequence of human nature (for which evolution is ironically responsible, but not at fault).
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03:30 AM on 07/03/2010
"For Darwin, evolution explained the phenomenon -- so he saw it -- of racial inferiority. Some races were farther up the evolutionary tree than others. Thus, in his view, Africans were just a step above gorillas."

This is a lie. A blatant lie.

Not only was Darwin an abolitionist, he also opposed the ALREADY existing eugenic concepts. It is in fact, his scientific work on evolution that overturned the widely held belief in the divine superiority of the "white race". He refuted the thinking of the time that blacks were 'subhuman'.
Darwin promoted that the mental capabilities of all races are virtually the same and there is greater variation within races than between races, and that races are not distinct, but rather they blend together.
The man did not believe in, much less promote the ideas of racial inferiority. In fact, stating that it was only culture, not biology, which accounted for the differences between the races.

I must ask sir, why are you lying? Or are you unaware that you are lying?
You should publish a retraction.
12:56 PM on 07/03/2010
Great points julian101, and all true, as anyone who really studies Darwin can attest. But the main point I would like to make is that the writers statement that slaughtering entire populations of people was something new under the sun is just blatant nonsense. I can only come to the conclusion that he has not only never read Darwin but has not read the book of Joshua either. According to the bible Gods' chosen people slaughtered something like 20 million people as they took over the "promised land".
06:05 PM on 07/03/2010
Darwin's actual words: "The variability or diversity of the mental faculties in men of the same
race, not to mention the greater differences between the men of distinct
races, is so notorious that not a word need here be said."

And this "It has been urged by several writers that as high intellectual powers are
advantageous to a nation, the old Greeks, who stood some grades higher in
intellect than any race that has ever existed (26. See the ingenious and
original argument on this subject by Mr. Galton, 'Hereditary Genius,' pp.
340-342.), ought, if the power of natural selection were real, to have
risen still higher in the scale, increased in number, and stocked the whole
of Europe. Here we have the tacit assumption, so often made with respect
to corporeal structures, that there is some innate tendency towards
continued development in mind and body. But development of all kinds
depends on many concurrent favourable circumstances. Natural selection
acts only tentatively. Individuals and races may have acquired certain
indisputable advantages, and yet have perished from failing in other
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02:53 AM on 07/03/2010
"the men who formulated Nazi ideology "weren't reading the Gospels.""

Guess who said, At the Bürgerbräukeller on April 12, 1922: "My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. .. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison."

a) Adolf Hitler
b) Charles Darwin
c) Zack Morris
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02:28 AM on 07/03/2010
""Ideas have consequences" -- that is the often repeated mantra of this meaty documentary. Which is, come to think of it, another fact of history that tends to get lost, or suppressed, in discussions of Darwinism. "

Oh, good, thank you for opening that door for me....because I can think of an "Idea" that has killed, enslaved, and oppressed people for over 2000 years....can you guess which one?
mountain man col
My Wordpress site is "reasoningpolitics"
10:12 PM on 07/02/2010
This article should have been titled. "Big ideas are dangerous to small minds." If we really want to explore what was behind eugenics, we should explore the thought processes of credulous people. People who will believe anything are dangerous. Are not the ideas, "Jews are racially inferior," or "Jesus was born of a virgin," or "diseases are God's curses," equally stupid?

Evolution explains biological diversity and launched the field of biology. Eugenics took advantage of credulous people and exploited their prejudices. Evolution teaches us that the races were the last thing to emerge in terms of human development and in doing so disproves eugenics.

Evolution is objective science in action: conclusions based on evidence. Eugenics was confirmation bias in action: reinforcing your pre-existing biases with cherry picked evidence. In that was, religion and eugenics have much in common.
Tom Czubernat
Seeking answers in a time of belief
02:24 AM on 07/03/2010
Just like the words and intentions of all of the world's spiritual leaders' can be twisted into unrecognizable forms, so can the words of science's great non spiritual leader's.

Evolution is, at it's core, survival of the fittest. That is real easy to corrupt.
mountain man col
My Wordpress site is "reasoningpolitics"
07:32 AM on 07/03/2010
I would disagree with you when it comes to many religious ideas. The religion I know best, Christianity, uses holy texts that advocate horrible behaviors, sometimes ordered by God Himself.

If I wanted to advocate slavery, all I have to do is open up my bible and read where it advocates slavery. That is what Christians did for centuries. Its in there. God has no problem with slavery. He even spells out how to treat them in the Torah.

Evolution is different. It does not pretend to be handed down by a deity. A human being thought of it, and while it is by far the best explanation for biological diversity, it is far from sacrosanct. It also makes no judgement on morality or human behavior. One needs a morality or ethics system to do that. Again, big ideas are dangerous to small minds. I would include many biblical authors in that category.

Darwin came up with Evolution and his writings reflect the world view of Victorian England, just like the New Testament reflects the world view of people living in ancient Palestine and other Roman Empire locations. They are both human, but only one admits it.
11:14 AM on 07/03/2010
Actually, this is not correct. The rather unfortunate "survival of the fittest" expression was intended by Darwin to be a metaphor for "better adapted for immediate, local environment", not the common inference of "in the best physical shape". No respected evolutionary biologist uses this expression any more.

See here for more:
Facts have a liberal bias.
10:01 PM on 07/02/2010
The author makes the common mistake of confusing the wrong applications of a theory with flaws in the theory itself.
In fact, as Darwin articulated it, sterilizing anyone would be foolish because we have no way of knowing what traits will be valuable in the future. The "eugenics" cleanses were evil, pure and simple. They were the result of people using science to rationalize bad behavior, not the result of science. Scientific theory, like money, is morally neutral; its application can be horrendous.
Tom Czubernat
Seeking answers in a time of belief
02:26 AM on 07/03/2010
"They were the result of people using science to rationalize bad behavior, not the result of science. "

Hmm, not unlike the Inquisition.

Be careful, the word "evil" has religious overtones. You wouldn't want to offend Darwin, would you?
Nathan Teegarden
11:45 AM on 07/06/2010
"Be careful, the word "evil" has religious overtones"

Not really, it's just that religions have latched onto morality like a parasite just as they try to do with art and history.
05:18 PM on 07/02/2010
Certainly, Berlinski says, the men who formulated Nazi ideology "weren't reading the Gospels."

Let us keep this in mind going forward.

Religion is as science is as money, it does not corrupt, it is the greed and lust for absolute power and money that corrupts. Thus physician and priest heal thyself.

That said…moving right along (chug-a-lug-chug-a-lug),

“Any animal that strives to preserve the weak”

…now here we get to the nitty gritty…the crux of the matter. Weakness is always an attribute measured in a moment of tangible and opposing strength. If I kill the weak today, did I thereby kill those who might have achieved strength in the future? Did I in fact cut off their evolutionary potential via my supposed momentary superiority, but upon closer review is decided afflicting frailty? I say frailty, because after having lived two score, I can tell you, there is nothing on this earth or beyond it that makes living so important I must slay another just because I can. That is a dog world not fit for dogs. We want to inch to that ledge in our dialogue, in our scientific study, in our stereotypes and whispered and roared innuendos.

See hell and you will see the planet on the drug of selfishness taken to the ultimate extreme. Hell consists of no love, and plenty of arrogance and hate. We are inching…ever closer by the steps that we take and the immoral blunders we make.

Stand erect.
06:20 PM on 07/02/2010
" it is the greed and lust for absolute power and money that corrupts"

That and the need to posture as if one knows. The desire for PPM is all up in the church.
08:17 PM on 07/04/2010
"The K-T extinction was the final hurrah for some of the earth's most successful organisms. The ammonites, squid-like creatures with coiled shells similar to those of the chambered Nautilus, perished during the K-T extinction. The ammonites represent one of the most evolutionarily successful groups in Earth's history, existing for more than 300 million years (by comparison, our species has existed for a brief 200,000 years, if that long). These sophisticated cephalopods diversified in oceans and seaways around the globe for hundreds of millions of years - only to perish forever at the K-T boundary."
Cogito ergo sum. Cogito.
04:59 PM on 07/02/2010
Oh, here we go again! The religious trot out eugenics every few years to discredit Darwin's theory. The fact that people misused Darwin's theory to commit atrocities in no way diminishes Darwin's theory. Darwin didn't advocate eugenics. Crackpots like Hitler did because they could use pseudo-science to achieve their ends.

Since orders of magnitude more atrocities have been and still are committed in the name of the "true faith"--whichever flavor of religion you prefer--does that make those religions tarnished beyond repair? Does that mean all the religions are invalid and without a moral center?
05:30 PM on 07/02/2010
Another fan for you, BillZBubb.
A not-so-elite liberal.
06:10 PM on 07/02/2010
"Since orders of magnitude more atrocities have been and still are committed in the name of the "true faith"--whichever flavor of religion you prefer--does that make those religions tarnished beyond repair? Does that mean all the religions are invalid and without a moral center?"

Yes, most certainly.