Re: Suppression of Sociobiology

Ryan Brown 942-7905 (
Sun, 8 Dec 1996 00:56:54 -0500

On Sun, 8 Dec 1996, Phil Nicholls wrote:

> Date: Sun, 08 Dec 1996 02:30:30 GMT
> From: Phil Nicholls <>
> Newsgroups: alt.politics.white-power, alt.discrimination, sci.anthropology,
>, alt.philosophy.objectivism,
> alt.politics.nationalism.white
> Subject: Re: Race, Science, & Political Correctness
> Bob Whitaker <> wrote:
> >Phil Nicholls wrote:
> >>
> >> Bob, I have actually read much of Coon's work and as far as I am
> >> concerned Coon was ill-treated by anthropology and by some
> >> anthropologists. Milford Wolpoff's multi-regional hypothesis of
> >> human origins is based in no small part on Coon's work.
> >> I will go even farther. I can remember the backlash against
> >> sociobiology by cultural anthropologists and only a fool would believe
> >> that this was not about the politics of cultural anthropology and it's
> >> rejection of anything it say as biological determinism.
> >> I remember being part of the graduate student faculty search committee
> >> and how any physical anthropologists whose work suggested any sympathy
> >> to sociobiology was immediately rejected.
> >> I can also tell you about Vincint Sarich's class at UC Berkeley being
> >> disrupted by individuals who are uncomfortable about the questions he
> >> asks and being labeled a racist for asking them.
> >> Bob, what you are doing is exactly the same as what those students and
> >> anthropologists did. They label anyone who disagrees with them a
> >> bigot, a racists, a biological determinist.
> >>
> >> You label everyone who disagrees with you a "PC Clone."
> >>
> >> How very sad that you have become the thing you hate.
> >>
> >> Phil Nicholls
> >>
> >> "To ask a question, you must first know
> >> most of the answer." Robert Sheckley
> > You're making excellent points, but I am afraid that the allowance
> >given to heresy early in the centruy is simply no longer the case in
> >anthropolgy. What you say about the suppresion of sociobiology and of
> >Carleton Coon has been repeatedly and loudly denied by the PC clones in
> >this newsgroup.
> Bob, you began this whole think with a rant on Boas which turned out
> to be historically inaccurate. Your point was that anthropology was
> somehow ALWAYS at the call of "the establishment." The fact is
> that anthropology is always somewhat heretical -- at least a part of
> it is. It seems to try to re-invent itself every 20 years or so.
> Sociobiology was not suppressed. There were those who tried but it
> was the exception rather than the rule. There is even a journal now
> -- Ethology and Sociobiology.

Hmmm. I find this argument pretty unconvincing. My experience in the
acaemy these days indicates a SERIOUS split between sociocultural
and anthropologists in evolutionary studies. Not only this, but many MANY
people outside the academy still remember the major backlash against
sociobiology, and biology and genetics are a VERY sensitive issue when
they leave the realm of the non-human. Seems that the insant I start
talking about biological bases for human behavior, eugenics enters the

"There is even a journal now" ??? That sounds way too much like a recent
comment I heard; "Black people aren't discriminated against any more.
Some of them even have their own TV shows."
I strongly believe evolutionary science has an ENORMOUS amount to
contribute to the understanding of human behavior, yet it is still taboo
in many arenas.

A lot of cultural anthropologists
> don't like it, but so what. The fact is that sociobiological models
> can very easily turn ugly and have. We need the opposition to keep
> them from those excesses. Biology is not destiny, it is just
> biology.
We need thoughtful opposition from within and without. We don't need
blind opposition, which is the status quo to a large extent.
Sociocultural models can and do turn ugly as well, but I have heard no
arguments for a steady stream of opposition to sociocultural models just
to "keep them in check."

Ryan Brown
UNC-Chapel Hill