Re: Definition of Race

Frosch (
9 Feb 95 00:17:59 GMT (Gerold Firl) writes:

>In article <dexter.791587650@aries> (Frosch) writes:
>> (Gerold Firl) writes:

>>>[...] Gould bears a heavy
>>>responsibility for his irresponsible and inflammatory comments couched in
>>>scientific terminology.

>> can you put that in some more detail? in all honesty, gould
>>would have to be one of the most levelled and fair writers on
>>scientific topics - including controversial ones - that i have
>>come across. what has he written on the topic that you consider
>>to be 'irresponsible and inflammatory'?

>Last night I looked through the two books I own written by Gould; urchin in
>the storm and pandas thumb - looking for some examples of flagrant and
>outrageous ideologically based polemics. In all honesty, I couldn't find
>any. I guess I overstated my case. What I found instead was a more
>understated sniping, a repetitious litany of complaint about "crude"
>biological determinism (why is that epithet so popular?) and a constant
>effort to link sociobiology with political oppression. Re-reading Goulds

maybe that epithet is 'so popular' because it fits so well. i
have studied 'genes, minds and culture' in detail and i find it to be
an ill-conceived, irresponsible and grandiose attempt on the part of
both authors to build some 'hard science' around speculative ideas which
wilson had already published ('on human nature'), freely admitting them
to be unfounded speculation. in 'genes, minds and culture', he invites
members of other disciplines to go out and find data to support his
fancy of 'epigenetic rules' determining culture. to me, that belongs
in the same category with 'morphogenetic fields' and rupert sheldrake.

a more recent example of the nonsense of wilson's concept can be
found in 'biophilia hypothesis'. i recommend reading jared diamond's
critical essay within the book itself.

>review of Wilson and Lumsden (sp?), _genes, minds, and culture_, I couldn't
>help but wonder about Goulds personal motives. He really seems concerned
>about the perception that some people might have of sociobiology as a
>revolutionary new approach to understanding the linkage between sociology

it seems to me that gould is a lot more concerned about the use
of sociobiology to uphold social injustice, particularly given 2). i
take it that it doesn't bother you if the explanations of sociobiology
are probably not true?

>and biology, culture and genetics, and goes to great pains to try and show
>that sociobiology is:

>1. Not New, since darwin speculated on the positive feedback potential
>between biological and cultural evolution, and

>2. Probably Not True, and

>3. Even if it is true, not nearly as important as punctuated equilibrium,
>which is actually the most Significant and Revolutionary advance in
>evolutionary biology in the late twentieth century.

maybe punctuated equilibrium is that, maybe it is not. but if
you want to claim that gould uses punctuated equilibrium as a refutation
of sociobiology, you had better damn well give a reference, because it
looks to me like you are grasping at straws to find reasons to attack
gould, having failed to find any rejoinder for his arguments.

>lewontin, or kitchener does. His personal crusade in support of truth,
>justice, human dignity and the american wayoflife is a little more low-key.

gould may enthuse about baseball from time to time (i could well
imagine this falls within his concept of 'legitimate parochialism' 8)
but where does he 'crusade for the american way of life'. his way of
relating to and assessing (more to the point, attempting to understand
from the _inside_) developments in other countries counts for me as a
good example of tolerance and open-mindedness in a public writer.

do you have something _against_ a crusade for truth, justice or
human dignity??

>The thing that bothers me the most about gould is the fact that he is
>willing to stoop to personal innuendo to further his own interests. He

this from a man who feels no need to refrain from polemics about
gould's "heavy responsibility for his irresponsible and inflammatory
comments couched in scientific terminology" - and then is compelled
to admit he can't locate any such comments?

>implies that sociobiology is a tool of the tyrannical state, used to
>maintain an oppressive social control, and that scientists who attempt to
>study the co-evolution of memes and genes are, consciously or
>unconsciously, supporting the Evil Empire. He may be motivated by what he
>considers to be noble motives of compassion for the less-fortunate, or he
>may be attempting to secure his place in the history books; either way, his
>use of unethical tactics is reprehensible.

you may not like gould's analyses (it doesn't excuse your hyperbole)
but i'll be damned if i can find any "unethical tactics" in there. the
use of sociobiology to justify and foster racism, sexism and injustice
is pretty clearly historically identifiable and i applaud the patience
of gould in pointing out how 'objective science' has fostered negative
concepts of human beings and served to justify existing oppression.
'the bell curve' counts as a further example of that despicable genre.