October 31, 2010

Brian Beutler takes a cheap shot at Sarah Palin: "Sarah Palin Calls Joe Miller A Lost Cause, Quotes Scopes Monkey Trial Attorney."

Beutler is either shameless or ignorant:
There are probably better ways to inspire confidence in a candidate's prospects when he's in free fall than to call him a lost cause. But that's exactly what Sarah Palin did to one of her favorite tea partiers last night.

"Joe Miller - do not give up. It's you against the machine. This is it. 'Lost causes' are the only ones worth fighting for,'" Palin tweeted, quoting famed Scopes Monkey Trial attorney Clarence Darrow.

It seems unlikely that Palin is aware that Darrow was a big wig at the American Civil Liberties Union given her penchant for scoffing at...civil liberties. And one wonders whether Palin knows that, in the Scopes trial, Darrow defended John Scopes, who violated Tennessee law by teaching evolution. But there you have it.
Is there any evidence, anywhere, that Sarah Palin would like to criminalize the teaching of evolution? Is there any evidence, anywhere, that Sarah Palin doesn't love our constitutional free expression rights? Is there evidence, anywhere, that Sarah Palin would not admire a lawyer who fought to defend free speech rights against the oppressive government use of criminal law against a science teacher?

In her memoir, Palin explains her views on evolution. Confronted with the statement "science proves evolution," she said: "Parts of evolution... But I believe that God created us and also that He can create an evolutionary process that allows species to change and adapt." That is what an awful lot of people think, and I think most American politicians if pressed on the question, would interweave God with the theory of evolution.

In any case, you don't even have to accept evolution to oppose criminalizing the teaching of evolution. The issue about evolution today isn't about barring teaching evolution. It's only about whether creationism or "intelligent design" can be taught alongside evolution if that's what schools want to do. The restriction on freedom of expression, then, is pro-evolution. Not anti-evolution. And who knows what Clarence Darrow would think about that?

But even assuming Clarence Darrow should be anathema to Sarah Palin, the quote — " 'Lost causes' are the only ones worth fighting for" — isn't from Clarence Darrow. It's from the book that became the movie "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." Here:



ADDED: Sarah Palin does name Clarence Darrow in her tweet, so clearly she had the wrong source for the quote too.

AND: "The restriction on freedom of expression, then, is pro-evolution. Not anti-evolution." Is that too concise to understand easily? I usually resist verbosity, but let me expand. Let's assume someone — Palin, Beutler, the ACLU, whoever — cares about freedom of expression and would like to oppose restrictions on it. Now, they look at the current issues that have to do with the teaching and evolution. They will not see a restriction on teaching the theory of evolution, which is generally required. The restrictions that exist today limit a public school teacher who would like to introduce alternate theories like creationism and intelligent design. The key case is Edwards v. Aguillard (1987):
[Louisiana's "Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science in Public School Instruction" Act] is designed either to promote the theory of creation science which embodies a particular religious tenet by requiring that creation science be taught whenever evolution is taught or to prohibit the teaching of a scientific theory disfavored by certain religious sects by forbidding the teaching of evolution when creation science is not also taught. The Establishment Clause, however, "forbids alike the preference of a religious doctrine or the prohibition of theory which is deemed antagonistic to a particular dogma." Because the primary purpose of the Creationism Act is to advance a particular religious belief, the Act endorses religion in violation of the First Amendment.

170 comments:

America's Politico said...
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rcocean said...

"Lost Causes are the only ones worth fighting for"

I thought Clark Gable said that.

rcocean said...

And who the hell is "Brian Beutler"?

campy said...

Brian Beutler is both shameless and ignorant.

Kirby Olson said...

Ignorance and shamelessness are not mutually exclusive. Perhaps Beutler is both and more?

Tora said...

Again... great deconstruction..

rcocean said...

How about ignorant, shameless AND obscure.

David said...

Althouse is wrong again.

This guy isn't shameless or ignorant.

He's shameless and ignorant.

Synova said...

So, she could well have been quoting Mr. Smith Goes to Washington...

Is this another case of OH NOES, SARAH PALIN DOESN'T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED IN 1773!

Maybe?

Ann Althouse said...

@Synova Is there any reason to think she was quoting Clarence Darrow and not the famous movie?

kk said...

Man, if I were Sarah Palin, I'd throw an obscure fact or quote into every speech, tweet, post, or sneeze I made, just to watch these fools twitch.

shoutingthomas said...

Sarah Palin seems to be a blank slate for the left to project all its hated on.

Chip Ahoy said...

This gave me my first good belly laugh today: Urban Dictionary defining "gotcha journalism" as straight forward questions that cannot be answered by inept politicians.

katie couric: "governor palin, how many fingers am i holding up?"

sarah palin: "you know katie, i'm sick and tired of this gotcha journalism."


HaHaHaHaHaHa that kills me.

"gotcha question" is likewise defined Palinphobicly, but not nearly as amusingly.

These attacks define the attacker, not Palin. If she were stupid and harmless as described, they'd ignore her as completely as they do Biden.

Synova said...

I think it's far more likely that she'd quote Mr. Smith Goes To Washington than the Monkey Trial. If she tweeted it and the quotations are hers, and she didn't *say* who she was quoting, it was most certainly Mr. Smith.

It just struck me as similar to the party like it's 1773 "gasping" that went on. It's a "wow, isn't Palin stooopid" thing... like correcting someone's correctly spelled word.

OTOH, that doesn't make any difference, it's just frosting on the cake because you're absolutely right... if she's quoting Darrow it's just as bad and not in a way that reflects on her. There is no evidence anywhere that Palin wants to criminalize the teaching of evolution. The "scoff at civil liberties" thing is equivalent to "see Russia from my house."

J said...

Miller's sort of like the Himmler to Miss Palin's Goering.

And do some research, and you will find that Palin did join in with the anti-evolutionists and the "young creationists": Moises walked with the Pterodactyls, y'all

former law student said...

And who the hell is "Brian Beutler"?

My question exactly. Certainly not a member of the liberals' A-list. Or the B, or the D, or maybe not even the Q-list.

Does that mean that the professor can turn her analytic powers on a conservative or two, before starting at the top of the Liberal List again?

But I looked up Brian Beutler -- he is the living refutation of a cliche, being a liberal, who was mugged, and yet did not become a conservative.

http://motherjones.com/mojo/2008/07/
blogger-brian-beutler-shot-

expected-make-full-recovery

Hagar said...

Plus the "Scopes Monkey Trial" was a deliberate circus put on by the good citizens of Dayton, Tenn. in the hope of ginning up some business in difficult times. A good time was had by all, and no hard feelings at that time.

TheGiantPeach said...

Brian Beutler did a memorable bloggingheads a couple years ago (or maybe longer) discussing his experience when he was shot by a mugger in DC. He had frightening injuries, but he was taken to ER fast enough that docs were able to patch him together, apparently without serious lasting effects.

(OK, so that had nothing to do with Sarah Palin, but nobody seemed to have heard of the guy.)

Donald Douglas said...

Ann, I think you're the world's smartest blogger!

edutcher said...

The Lefties will tell you they believe in evolution, as if they were talking about a religion.

One can say, "I believe evolution is essentially correct.", but to say one believes in evolution displays an appalling ignorance of what it represents. One might as well say one believes in Newton's Third Law of Motion.

shoutingthomas said...

Sarah Palin seems to be a blank slate for the left to project all its hated on.

Precisely.

J said...

Miller's sort of like the Himmler to Miss Palin's Goering.

Once again vindicating Godwin's Law.

PS The American Revolution, the Civil War, and WWII all appeared to be lost causes at one time.

Trooper York said...

"rcocean said...
And who the hell is "Brian Beutler"?

He was famous for getting a day off.

Hello...anyone... Beutler?"

RichardS said...

Is it worth noting here that much of the reason why William Jennings Bryan and others opposed the teaching of evolution in Tennessee in the 1920s is that it was presented as a racist doctring? Back then, the latest science was eugenic in orientation. If I remember the latest scholarship on this correctly, the textbook in question suggested that whites were at a higher state of evolution than blacks. Bryan was standing up for the equality of men, based upon the natural rights teaching of 1776 against the Darwinian innovation of what we now call "Social Darwinism."

The story of the trial is more complicated than the children of light vs. the children of darkness version that our textbooks usually teach.

J said...

edutcher said...

Godwin

You mean that leftist rationalist who detested religious fanatics, rightist-royalists, and capitalists, and who more or less argued for ending the British monarchy? No, I don't think you mean that, or else you'd be quoting your enemy.

edutcher's caricatures of what he takes to be "lefties" are as ludicrous as,well, any usual Teabagger/Foxnews addicted nut. And, many of those who oppose fundamentalist creationists are not even Demos.

Few intelligent humans would say they "believe" in Evolution as a faith; -that's merely Annie Coulter style misrepresentation.
They take it to be an accurate description of the facts--the fossil record, adaptation, natural selection, etc--supported by experimental methods (radiometric dating, for one, einstein).

chr1 said...

You know Althouse...

You can't beat all the idiots and sycophants of this world by linking and mocking (Talking Points, NY Times, clown liberals and trolls). The world is full of people like that, left and right. Some have good reasons, most don't. Most will discover one truth as though it were theirs, and then talk it up, slander, lie, drum up support. Such is politics, and such is human nature. We are all capable of it, few achieve more and it's especially galling to see my freedoms at stake and held by the tyranny of the majority.

Give yourself a break. You've earned it. Thank you for speaking clearly and profoundly about feminism, and taking on the feminists and Slatists, too. Im grateful for that.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Richards:

Is it worth noting here that much of the reason why William Jennings Bryan and others opposed the teaching of evolution in Tennessee in the 1920s is that it was presented as a racist doctring? Back then, the latest science was eugenic in orientation. If I remember the latest scholarship on this correctly, the textbook in question suggested that whites were at a higher state of evolution than blacks. Bryan was standing up for the equality of men, based upon the natural rights teaching of 1776 against the Darwinian innovation of what we now call "Social Darwinism."

Because we all remember Tennesee as the vanguard of the equality of races, don't we?

This is a nice bit of historical revisionism, but it is completely false, and you have to completely ignore what was said at the trial in order to believe it.

Bryan in his summation:

It is for the jury to determine whether this attack upon the Christian religion shall be permitted in the public schools of Tennessee by teachers employed by the state and paid out of the public treasury. This case is no longer local, the defendant ceases to play an important part. The case has assumed the proportions of a battle-royal between unbelief that attempts to speak through so-called science and the defenders of the Christian faith, speaking through the legislators of Tennessee. It is again a choice between God and Baal; it is also a renewal of the issue in Pilate's court....

Again force and love meet face to face, and the question, "What shall I do with Jesus?" must be answered. A bloody, brutal doctrine--Evolution--demands, as the rabble did nineteen hundred years ago, that He be crucified. That cannot be the answer of this jury representing a Christian state and sworn to uphold the laws of Tennessee. Your answer will be heard throughout the world; it is eagerly awaited by a praying multitude. If the law is nullified, there will be rejoice wherever God is repudiated, the savior scoffed at and the Bible ridiculed. Every unbeliever of every kind and degree will be happy. If, on the other hand, the law is upheld and the religion of the school children protected, millions of Christians will call you blessed and, with hearts full of gratitude to God, will sing again that grand old song of triumph: "Faith of our fathers, living still, In spite of dungeon, fire and sword; O how our hearts beat high with joy Whene'er we hear that glorious word--- Faith of our fathers--Holy faith; We will be true to thee till death!"


I wouldn't care about creationism if creationists, and their apologists, didn't continually lie about and misrepresent history and science. They cannot seem to help themselves. Believe whatever you want, teach it your kids; it's your mind and they're your kids. But you don't have a license to lie.

Gabriel Hanna said...
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Gabriel Hanna said...
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traditionalguy said...

Jimmy Stewart's performance in Mr Smith Goes to Washington actually bears a strong resemblance to Joe Miller's going against the Alaska-Big Oil Murkowski Gang. If you have never seen it, rent it and be awestruck at how little has changed since 1939. That was one of Stewart's last innocent Good Guy roles. When he returned from 25+ combat missions over Germany in 1946, Stewart had to play roles of a slightly bitter and quickly angry fighting man, because that was what he had become.

Gabriel Hanna said...
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Gabriel Hanna said...
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rcocean said...

It should noted that Bryan never objected to the teaching of Evolution - in general - only to the teaching of Evolution regarding Mankind.

It also should be noted, Bryan hated "Social Darwinism" which Hitler and the Nazi's supported. Oh, and Stalin loved Darwin too.

And Darrow was a hate-filled, "what's in it for me?", unethical leftist. But he hated those "Christainists" so he's now revered.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@rcocean:

It should noted that Bryan never objected to the teaching of Evolution - in general - only to the teaching of Evolution regarding Mankind.


I could give you that one, but this

Oh, and Stalin loved Darwin too.

is a lie. Stalin put Darwinists in the Gulag.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lysenkoism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikolai_Vavilov

From 1934 to 1940, under Lysenko's admonitions and with Stalin's approval, many geneticists were executed (including Isaak Agol, Solomon Levit, Grigorii Levitskii, Georgii Karpechenko and Georgii Nadson) or sent to labor camps. The famous Soviet geneticist Nikolai Vavilov was arrested in 1940 and died in prison in 1943.[8]

Genetics was stigmatized as a 'bourgeois science' or 'fascist science' (because fascists — particularly the Nazis in Germany — embraced genetics and attempted to use it to justify their theories on eugenics and the master race, which culminated in Action T4).

Despite the ban, some Soviet scientists continued to work in genetics, dangerous as it was[citation needed].

In 1948, genetics was officially declared "a bourgeois pseudoscience"[9]; all geneticists were fired from work (some were also arrested), and all genetic research was discontinued. Nikita Khrushchev, who claimed to be an expert in agricultural science, also valued Lysenko as a great scientist, and the taboo on genetics continued (but all geneticists were released or rehabilitated posthumously). The ban was only waived in the mid 1960s.



Vavilov repeatedly criticised the non-Mendelian concepts of Trofim Lysenko. As a result, Vavilov was arrested on August 6, 1940 and died of malnutrition in a prison in 1943.

Bad enough you have to try to Godwin evolution, but as like all apologists for creationism you have to go too far and try to drag in Stalin, which is a lie.

Evil men also believe that the sun rises in the east, if they are sane.

Gabriel Hanna said...

More Bryan on the Bible and evolution:

Our first indictment against evolution is that it disputes the truth of the Bible account of man's creation and shakes faith in the Bible as the word of God. This indictment we prove by comparing the processes described. as evolutionary with the text of Genesis. It not only contradicts the Mosaic record as to the beginning of human life, but it disputes the Bible doctrine of reproduction according to kind - the greatest scientific principle known.

Our second indictment is that the evolutionary hypothesis, carried to its logical conclusion, disputes every vital truth of the Bible. Its tendency, natural, if not inevitable, is to lead those who really accept it, first to agnosticism and then to atheism. Evolutionists attack the truth of the Bible, not openly at first, but by using weasel-words like "poetical," "symbolical" and "allegorical" to suck the meaning out of the inspired record of man's creation....
Do these evolutionists stop to think of the crime they commit when they take faith out of the hearts of men and women and lead them out into a starless night? What pleasure can they find in robbing a human being of "the hallowed glory of that creed" and in substituting "the lonely mystery of existence?" Can the fathers and mothers of Tennessee be blamed for trying to protect their children from such a tragedy?

If any one has been led to complain of the severity of the punishment that hangs over the defendant, let him compare this crime, with its mild punishment, with the crimes for which a greater punishment is prescribed. What is the taking of a few dollars from one. In day or night in comparison with the crime of leading one away from God and away from Christ?


Really, you have to read the transcript for yourself. Willyou be angry at the creationists who lied about it to you, angry that you spread their lies for them and that they played you for a chump? Or are you going to blame me?

Search the transcript for any concern Bryan has about the equality of races--it's all about the Bible and protecting Christianity.

Judge for yourself, don't take my word for it:

http://www.csudh.edu/oliver/smt310-handouts/wjb-last/wjb-last.htm

J said...

Gabriel's correct. The stalinists opposed Darwin, and favored Lysenko-ism. That a few nazis quoted Darwin in favor of eugenics does not discredit evolution; if that were the case, Teddy Roosevelt and Winnie Churchill--social Darwinists, at least initially-- would be similarly discredited as well.

Bryan's speeches demonstrate his fundamentalist bent pretty clearly. He was a powerful orator, but not really qualified to speak on the evolution. Yes, there were a few early biology texts that may have alluded to eugenics and social Darwinism--, but not all of them did. Scopes wasn't on trial for teaching eugenics, but for teaching Darwinian evolution as a whole (ie, natural selection, adaptation, heredity, etc), most of which remains in modern bio texts.

RichardS said...

Here's a link to Bryan's closing statment:
http://www.csudh.edu/oliver/smt310-handouts/wjb-last/wjb-last.htm

Here's a sample. [Quoting Darwin]
"The aid which we felt impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. * * * We must therefore bear the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak serving and propagating their kind.

Darwin reveals the barbarous sentiment that runs through evolution and dwarfs the moral nature of those who become obsessed with it. Let us analyze the quotation just given. Darwin speaks with approval of the savage custom of eliminating the weak so that only the strong will survive, and complains that "we civilized men do our utmost to check the process of elimination." How inhuman such a doctrine as this! He thinks it injurious to "build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick" or to care for the poor. Even the medical men come in for criticism because they "exert their utmost skill to save the life of everyone to the last moment." And then note his hostility to vaccination because it has "preserved thousands who, from a weak constitution would, but for vaccination, have succumbed to smallpox!" All of the sympathetic activities of civilized society are condemned because they enable "the weak members to propagate their kind." Then he drags mankind down to the level of the brute and compares the freedom given to man unfavorably with the restraint that we put on barnyard beasts."

Darwin himself suggested, as Bryan notes, that there might be an evolutionary reason for such tenderness. In the 1920s, however, many neglected that side of things. Eugenics was big then. That, as much as the religious aspect of it, is what made the cause so important to him. His opponents attacked Christianity and supported the white race over other races.

If this link is correct, here's a sample of teachings in the textbook in question:
http://www-personal.umd.umich.edu/~ppennock/doc-scopesText.htm

"Evolution of Man. - Undoubtedly there once lived upon the earth races of men who were much lower in their mental organization than the present inhabitants. If we follow the early history of man upon the earth, we find that at first he must have been little better than one of the lower animals. He was a nomad, wandering from place to place, feeding upon whatever living things he could kill with his hands. Gradually he must have learned to use weapons, and thus kill his prey, first using rough stone implements for this purpose. As man became more civilized, implements of bronze and of iron were used. About this time the subjugation and domestication of animals began to take place. Man then began to cultivate the fields, and to have a fixed place of abode other than a cave. The beginnings of civilization were long ago, but even to-day the earth is not entirely civilized.

The Races of Man. - At the present time there exist upon the earth five races or varieties of man, each very different from the other in instincts, social customs, and, to an extent, in structure. These are the Ethiopian or negro type, originating in Africa; the Malay or brown race, from the islands of the Pacific; the American Indian; the Mongolian or yellow race, including the natives of China, Japan, and the Eskimos; and finally, the highest race type of all, the Caucasians, represented by the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America"

edutcher said...

J said...
edutcher said...

Godwin

You mean that leftist rationalist who detested religious fanatics, rightist-royalists, and capitalists, and who more or less argued for ending the British monarchy


No, the one who said the first to invoke Hitler (or the Nazis) is losing.

Few intelligent humans would say they "believe" in Evolution as a faith; -that's merely Annie Coulter style misrepresentation.

Apparently Leftists aren't intelligent humans, they do it all the time.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@J:

Winnie Churchill--social Darwinists

I don't think that's fair to Churchill at all. I've read quite a bit by him and about him; while he did grow up a Victorian and a Conservative I don't recall any evidence that he espoused eugenics, or thought that nothing should be done to help poor people. I'm prepared to be proven wrong.

J said...

Ah that libertarian wingnut Godwin. Yeah Im not familiar with him, nor do I care about his refrigerator-magnet slogans, any more than I care about what Beck or Limbaugh belched over the last few weeks.

Sarah was with the creationists and anti-evolutionists. Believe it. She and a few other GOP gals have recently sort of changed their fundie tune a bit--probably per orders from Michael Steele, Shark-in-chief.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@edutcher:

No, the one who said the first to invoke Hitler (or the Nazis) is losing.

That's not what Godwin said, but it's what I meant by saying it.

@RichardS:

The racist notions presented in that textbook were current all over the Western world at that time--are you going to claim that Bryan himself didn't believe the same, or that the people of Tennessee didn't? As for eugenics, creationists also believed in eugenics. So did Plato and the Spartans.

But that's irrelevant--we know what the law said and why they passed that law:

That it shall be unlawful for any teacher in any of the Universities, Normals and all other public schools of the State which are supported in whole or in part by the public school funds of the State, to teach any theory that denies the Story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals."

NOTHING in there about racism or eugenics. Your historical is a lie.

You've quoted one snippet of Bryan where he doesn't actually attack eugenics, and I've quoted Bryan extensively on his concern for the Bible and Christianity.

Gabriel Hanna said...

We, in the 21st century, agree that racism and eugenics are Bad Things. We also know that in the early 20th century there were many people who considered those things to have a scientific basis. Retroactively we can look back and say "What an evil biology book."

But that was not the issue in Tennessee in 1925. People in Tennessee did not pass the Butler Act to combat racism and eugenics; both of which were the law in the United States at the time at the state and Federal level.

They passed the Act to protect the Bible and Christianity. Nowhere does the law say anything about racism or eugenics.

J said...

From the Wiki on eugenics: "In Britain, eugenics never received significant state funding, but it was supported by many prominent figures of different political persuasions before World War I, including: Liberal economists William Beveridge and John Maynard Keynes; Fabian socialists such as Irish author George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells and Sidney Webb; the future Prime Minister Winston Churchill; and Conservatives such as Arthur Balfour."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics#Britain

There's quite a bit more material re eugenics and famous Brits and Americans online. It's somewhat amusing that many of the heroes of the biblethumping conservatives, such as Churchill and T. Roosevelt, were themselves pro-evolutionists (and often favored eugenics)

Gabriel Hanna said...

@J:

Ah that libertarian wingnut Godwin. Yeah Im not familiar with him, nor do I care about his refrigerator-magnet slogans,

Godwin's law: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1."

I'm a libertarian wingnut, J. But go ahead and throw garbage on me anyway, since politics is more important to you than science or truthful history.

RichardS said...

Not sure I read it that way. Bryan's comment, "note his hostility to vaccination because it has "preserved thousands who, from a weak constitution would, but for vaccination, have succumbed to smallpox!"

That suggests he is attacking the notion that we should only let the fit survive.

traditionalguy said...

This thread has turned into a fall festival of straw men. Evolution is evolution and creation is creation. There is room for both at skeptical science's table. And that is Palin's position. In the end we may know all that there is, but until that day comes it is OK for scientists to wrestle with the defects in both theories. It is good to see Gabriel Hanna back enlightening the discussions.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@RichardS:

That suggests he is attacking the notion that we should only let the fit survive.

Eugenics is the application of stock-breeding to humans.

The notion that "we should only let the fit survive" is a notion Darwin never propounded, and that is not a part of the theory of evolution, because it's a moral judgment. Darwin's moral judgment went the other way, as Bryan noted.

That the most fit to an environment do outreproduce the less fit is an observed fact. It's not a moral judgment.

Did you see Idiocracy, how the population got stupider because the stupid had more kids than the smart ones? In that environment, the stupid are more fit.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@traditionalguy:

Evolution is evolution and creation is creation. There is room for both at skeptical science's table.

In a vast universe, most of which is unknown and unknowable, there is room for God. I think that is what Sarah Palin is trying to say.

In the tiny universe of creationists, where Man is the pinnacle, the Earth is only six thousand years old, with worldwide floods and talking snakes and the earth's rotation stopped for trivial reasons--no, there is no room for that in skeptical science.

If Sarah Palin believes in a literal six thousand year Earth, I'm not bothered by it unless she's running for my local school board.

RichardS said...

Perhaps I'm wrong, by my reading of Bryan is that he's linking regrets Darwin expresses that so many inferior people survive with those in his own day who wished to do something about it.

P.S. It always seemed to me that the strongest argument about the limits of evolution is from epistemology. Occam's razor is a principle of convenience; it is not designed to discover truth.

rcocean said...

I see the "Evolutionists" are playing their old shell game. "Evolution is this - not that". When did "genetics" = "Evolution" as discussed in the Scopes Trial? Answer: Never.

This is why every discussion of 'Evolution' is worthless unless you get the dishonest "evolutionists" to define themselves upfront. Otherwise, its like trying to nail jelly to a wall, they answer any criticism with "Well, that's not evolution!"

Genetics is "evolution" except when it isn't. The Big Band theory is "evolution" except when it isn't. Inter-species evolution is "Evolution" except when it isn't. 'Survival of the fittest' is "evolution" except when it isn't.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@RichardS:

he's linking regrets Darwin expresses that so many inferior people survive with those in his own day who wished to do something about it.

That's not what Darwin said at all. You are reading a truncated quote from him filtered through a hostile interpreter.

Darwin said, in that quote, if people were cattle we would kill them if they didn't meet our standards of fitness. People are not animals and it would be barbaric to treat them as such. Our scruples are not without costs, however.

RichardS, do you know what cystic fibrosis is? You can only get it if you inherit the genes for it from both parents. It used to be that kids with CF didn't live very long, but now medicine is good enough that these kids do gorw up to live that long. I don;t know if CF kids ARE having kids, but if they are they are passing CF genes along to their kids.

Recognizing this fact is not the same as saying we should sterilize these kids or let them die before they have kids of their own. In fact often parents of kids with CF refuse to have further kids, because they don't want to impose that curse on a new generation--but that's their choice. A civilized society does not force people to breed like animals, and that is what Darwin was saying--but he said you have to remember the cost.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@rcocean:

You were caught lying once already.

If I actually thought you'd listen I'd be glad to tell you what evolution is and isn't, but all you want to do is lie to people and scare them with Hitler puppets.

"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. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before in the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.... And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.... When I go out in the morning and see these men standing in their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those by whom to-day this poor people is plundered and exploited. "

There's your Hitler: a man who publicly professed Christianity and whose millions of followers were Christians.

Christianity is not to blame for Nazism, but it had far more to do with it than theories of evolution had.

J said...

Oh Gabby, you don't even know who the social darwinists were, and Im quite sure I know as much about natural selection and trad. Darwinian evo. (as opposed to Doc Behe's version) as you, or the rest of the A-house frat house.

And while nazi allusions (--or red allusions for that matter) can at times be a bit dramatic or a type of pathos they're hardly verboten, just because...a rightist-libertarian wingnut says they are. GOPers may have ridiculed Bu$h is Hitler--then, do a bit of research and you discover that Dubya's grandpa Prescott Bush had many ties to the nazis.

mariner said...

rcocean,

To riff on your rant, whoever doesn't believe in whatever evolutionists are trying to sell must be idiots who believe in a 6000-yr-old Earth.

RichardS said...

As I noted, Bryan was addressing Darwinians of his own day more than Darwin. There's a distinction between what Darwin said, and the common interpretation of him in the first part of the 20th Century. Bryan was judging Darwin (not entirely fairly) by the writings of several of his best known American acolytes. I noted that alredy, but perhaps I should emphasize it.

As the old saying goes, Darwin was not a Darwinian. (Darwin also did not say that evolution was from higher to lower.)

Bryan's fight against Darwinism and Eugenics is well documented.
http://books.google.com/books?id=iyzn5QQD0bIC&pg=PA16&lpg=PA16&dq=Bryan,+social+darwinism&source=bl&ots=GgjfrcoONf&sig=38afk57I-Dm0--CxKsNw3Wzz3L4&hl=en&ei=HvDNTLARhfqzA9metdIO&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CBsQ6AEwATgK#v=onepage&q=Bryan%2C%20social%20darwinism&f=false

His work in the Scopes trial fits into a pattern. That was, in his mind, inseparable from his fear that Americans were becoming less Christian.

As noted earlier, it's important to present history in all its complexity.

Palladian said...

"It's somewhat amusing that many of the heroes of the biblethumping conservatives..."

Ah, yes the dreaded biblethumping conservatives! Certainly neither of these states can exist independently of one another.

If the State were out of the business of education (just like if it were out of the business of marriage) these sorts of completely intractable, completely worthless battles would disappear, or at least move from the public to the private sphere, where they belong. If schools were operated independent of State control, then you could have schools that taught scientific interpretation of the world and schools that taught religious interpretation of the world. Or both! Or neither!

Neither science nor religion hold the complete truth about everything. To expect science to answer metaphysical questions is as futile and unrewarding as expecting religion to answer scientific questions.

But those decisions should be left up to individuals. People should be allowed to choose poorly, people should be allowed to think and learn what they want, regardless of whether you think they're wrong, stupid, godless, fundamentalist, or whatever. The basic idea of biological evolution is indisputable. Most of modern medicine would not exist without the basic idea of biological evolution being true. But if you choose to disagree, as wrong-headed as I think you would be, you should have the right to do so, and the right to teach such wrong-headedness to your children.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@J:

You were on my side until you found out I had the wrong politics, and then you started flinging feces at me.

I care a lot more about science than I care about politics; it's seems you don't.

And are you really trying to say that Bush = Hitler because of Bush's GRANDFATHER? Even if all you say about Prescott Bush is true, which it isn't, that's still pretty stupid to say (after all, there's Joseph Kennedy, isn't there)?

http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2434/was-president-bushs-great-grandfather-a-nazi

Prescott's involvement with Nazi finance is more complicated. Though Thyssen had been an ardent backer of the Nazis in the early days, he broke with them in 1938 after the Kristallnacht pogrom against the Jews. He fled to Switzerland the following year, and Hitler confiscated his fortune and stripped him of his citizenship. In I Paid Hitler Thyssen confessed his role in financing the Nazis and denounced the Führer. Arrested in Vichy France, he spent the balance of the war as an Axis prisoner. Prescott Bush, for his part, owned a single share of stock (of 4,000) in UBC, the Thyssen bank. According to a 2001 Boston Globe piece, the New York Herald Tribune ran a story in July 1942 headlined "Hitler's Angel Has 3 Million in US Bank," in which Prescott and other BBH partners "explain[ed] to government regulators that their position [as directors of UBC] was merely an unpaid courtesy for a client."

J said...

Few real evolutionists try to sell anything--it's not even primarily a theory about ...human beings, but.... all organic life. That was one of Byran's great errors.(Look at the fossil record for ..equus for example--descent with modifications. Evolution, confirmed)

On the other hand, many biblethumping snake-oil salesmen pitch the Bible every day. Holy Blood red Heifer,ratman

Gabriel Hanna said...

@RichardS:

His work in the Scopes trial fits into a pattern. That was, in his mind, inseparable from his fear that Americans were becoming less Christian.

I linked to the transcript, okay? Almost all of it is about the Bible and Christianity. Your Bryan quote is the only snippet of pages and pages that even touches on eugenics. And there's not a word in there against racism.

Look at all the paragraphs I quoted. I quoted only a fraction of those I COULD have.

Whatever Bryan thought about racism or eugenics, he spent the trial talking about the Bible and Jesus! Clearly he thought that was by far the most important thing! And the people who MADE the law certainly weren't against racism and eugenics, and the law itself says nothing about those things!

J said...

No, Gabby, Bush II wasn't quite Hitler (...for one, he had too much opposition, whereas the nazis, at least post- Reichstag fire, had plenty of pop. support)--that doesn't mean Bush II, Cheney, et al weren't war criminals.

Regardless, Prescott Bush did business with the nazis, even during WWII.

traditionalguy said...

Gabriel...You can meet some brain dead 6000 year old earthers out there, like 9/11 truthers. But the Christianity that I know says that the earth is 5 or 6 billion years old. The Genesis 1:1 description says God in the beginning created all things, 6 billion years ago it seems . Then Genesis 1:2 says things had later become an upside down and backwards chaos. Then God's word and spirit starts things over again in a new creation that leads to Adam's race here about 6,000 years ago. Let go of the 6000 year old earth straw man and deal with the descendants of Adam over those 6,000 years, which is all that the Bible reveals to us. God keeps some things secret, but between Gen.1:1 and 1:2 the prior races of whatever types , "neanderthals", saber toothed tigers, mastadons for example, had apparently eliminated by God's Judgement. Make what you will of that argument within the fossil record, but that is the educated Bible believer's actual position on creation timing. You and Clarence Darrow need a better argument then that one.

Palladian said...

"Oh Gabby, you don't even know who the social darwinists were, and Im quite sure I know as much about natural selection and trad. Darwinian evo. (as opposed to Doc Behe's version) as you, or the rest of the A-house frat house."

Um, yeah. Sorry, but it's hard to accept that someone supposedly so educated about the complexities of the science of natural selection and Darwinism would write like a sub-literate text messaging teenager.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Palladian:

To expect science to answer metaphysical questions is as futile and unrewarding as expecting religion to answer scientific questions.


What's taught in science class to kids is not metaphysics but merely factual. Either nuclear plants work or they don't; if they work the Earth isn't 6000 years old.

Even in my graduate quantum classes we didn't talk about metaphysics--what does all this stuff mean, is any of it real, is the Copenhagen interpretation the right one? We might BS about it after class, sure.

But those decisions should be left up to individuals. People should be allowed to choose poorly, people should be allowed to think and learn what they want, regardless of whether you think they're wrong, stupid, godless, fundamentalist, or whatever.

Of course I agree, and this is true...

but creationists want fake science taught on the taxpayer dime, and don't want their kids hearing anything that might be against the Bible--again on the taxpayer dime.

But if you choose to disagree, as wrong-headed as I think you would be, you should have the right to do so, and the right to teach such wrong-headedness to your children.

You do, it's called home-school. You don't have the right to make the taxpayers do it, but that;s what creationists want--that's why there's court cases about it.

Palladian said...

"You were on my side until you found out I had the wrong politics, and then you started flinging feces at me."

This is a good example of the hateful consequences of dragging a subject like science into the political sphere where it does not belong. The wonders of science and the sanctity of metaphysics become just two more dog-eared cudgels with which to batter partisan opponents.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@traditionalguy:

You can meet some brain dead 6000 year old earthers out there, like 9/11 truthers.

Like, 40% of Americans. It's not a fringe idea.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Earth_creationism

between Gen.1:1 and 1:2 the prior races of whatever types , "neanderthals", saber toothed tigers, mastadons for example, had apparently eliminated by God's Judgement. Make what you will of that argument within the fossil record, but that is the educated Bible believer's actual position on creation timing.


I would never say that evolution disproves Christianity. But evolution and anthropology put strict limits on what, in the Bible, can be literally true.

Maguro said...

There should be no creationism taught in public school science class. Nor should they force Al Gore's warmalist messianism on innocent schoolkids.

Palladian said...

"You do, it's called home-school. You don't have the right to make the taxpayers do it, but that;s what creationists want--that's why there's court cases about it."

I don't think the taxpayer's money should be spent subsidizing any particular brand of education. Again the problem arises because we're trying to solve a philosophical problem with political tools. These kinds of arguments are always good indications that it shouldn't be a political question or matter of the State at all, and that public money shouldn't be spent on it.

Privatize education.

traditionalguy said...

Gabriel...Is you argument that since 40% of Americans are brain dead, that creationism must be denied its place at the table of legitimate science? That is a steep price to pay for a PR triumph over them.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@traditionalguy:

Gabriel...Is you argument that since 40% of Americans are brain dead, that creationism must be denied its place at the table of legitimate science? That is a steep price to pay for a PR triumph over them.

Not a bit.

First, YOU were the one who said young earth creationists were brain-dead, not worth bothering with, and attacking them is attacking a strawman. I retorted that since 40% of Americans believe this it is NOT a fringe thing, NOT a strawman to attack it. That is what most religious people in this country believe.

Creationism--literal talking snakes and 6000 years ago and the flood--is just as much mythology as Zeus and the Gods of Olympus. It is a set of religiously motivated beliefs in events which did not happen.

You can believe in God, believe that God has a special regard for people, loves us all and Heaven and Hell and still be a scientist--these things don't contradict the nature of the physical world.

If every Christian were like C. S. Lewis things would be different. If I wanted to argue with C. S. Lewis I wouldn;t harass him about the snakes. But C. S. Lewis was not lobbying school boards to castrate science classes.

J said...

Palladian--

chinga tu madre, basura

this isn't the NY Times, is it. It's a combox. YOu're not here to edit anyone. Work with content, einstein, not what you take to be the anglo language.

Anyway, Sarah P. changed her tune a bit. Her spin-doctors probably told her that the old school religion schtick, while probably popular in texass or the dirty south, was backfiring, like anywhere semi-educated people resided.

That said, rational religion might coexist with Darwin and modern science ( even Behe accepts most of Darwin's account of evolution). But its not likely to co-exist with the anti-rational hysterical sort, which counts out Miss Palin's congregation (and most bapticks across the US).

Gabriel Hanna said...

@J:

chinga tu madre, basura

Do continue to elevate the discourse.

Are you interested in persuading people or do you just want to demonstrate your superiority to rubes and chumps?

If you cared about science, you would try to reason with people instead of flinging feces.

If anyone had any doubt about our common ancestry with the apes, your behavior should remove it...

Gabriel Hanna said...

@traditionalguy:

Take a subject dear to my heart, physics. Not one word in the Bible on the subject. Not one word about, say, how to make soap--think how many lives might have been saved by that knowledge alone. The occasional useful information like not defecating in the camp is drowned out by irrelevancies like not wearing cloth made of two fabrics or how diagnose "leprosy" in a HOUSE.

I'm not saying that to criticize the Bible; just pointing out that the Bible is overwhelmingly concerned with the nature of God, how God should be worshiped, and what obligations toward each other God imposes on us.

In other words, it's about how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go. That's why the science needs to be in science class. If some people choose to reject science because of their faith, that's their business, but they don't have a right to damage the education of other people by changing the science curriculum to suit their religious prejudices.

MrBuddwing said...

In other words, it's about how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.

Good line!

Word verification: donsters.

J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J said...

Gabby, I refuse to engage in battles of wits with those who are unarmed. ergo...yo ha practicando mi espanol


Serio, there's not much to discuss. Sarah Palin was, according to most estimations, unfit for political office in AK--she might be a nice lady (tho' a dimwit, really), but ...just doesn't have the skills and abilities. It was one of McCaint's marketing hustles, IMHE.

A fortiori, she's definitely unfit to even be considered for US Prezz, and really the Demos are licking their chops at that possibility (then, Mitt Moroni ROmneyoid will be mowed down as well.

Palladian said...

J responds to charges of writing in a sub-literate way by writing in an even more sub-literate way, with some earthy ethnic insults thrown in!

Anyway, if you're a scientist (lol) I certainly hope you know how to use that dreaded "anglo language" a bit better than you do here. You'll find that good communication skills are a scientific asset.

Palladian said...

Bracing myself for another barrage of nacho-cheese flavored insults...

Palladian said...

Actually from the tone and tenor, they're more Cheetos and cannabis-flavored insults.

rcocean said...

Interesting how some "Evolutionists" always steer the discussion away from the science of Darwin toward how "stoopid" those Bible thumpers are.

It's almost as if the "Evolutionists" weren't Spock-like Scientists, coldly guided by logic and facts -but emotion-driven Atheists and God haters who think of "Evolution" as just another stick to attack Religion.

'Course that can't be true, Darwin tells me so.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@rcocean:

You like being the mirror image of J?

I caught you lying already. If you want to talk about "the science of Darwin" we can, but I will hold you to the science and you will not like it one bit.

I don't think people who believe in the Bible are stupid. I think people who take the creation story literally are wrong, but being wrong isn't being stupid, unless you willfully persist in it. A subset of those people make a living lying about science and scientists; they are not stupid, but evil. People who have the truth on their side don't need to tell lies.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@MrBuddwing:

In other words, it's about how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.


Not mine. It's Cardinal Cesare Baronio on the Galileo controversy. He's currently being considered for canonization by that infamous nest of Darwinists, the Catholic Church.

Palladian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gabriel Hanna said...

@J:

Sarah Palin was, according to most estimations, unfit for political office in AK

Neither here nor there regarding evolution, but the voters of Alaska disagreed with you numerous times.

But you are so much smarter than everyone else, I'm sure some of your insults en espanol will win hearts and minds to your cause.

Not all that much is going to change on Tuesday, despite the rhetoric from both sides, but I look forward to your splenetic and impotent rage. Keep insulting the electorate, that'll get your boys in office.

Of course, when enough of you and your comrades get together you won't need that nonsense; you can dissolve the American people and elect another more to your liking.

Palladian said...

You know rcocean, just because some scientifically-literate people also happen to be bigoted, arrogant pricks doesn't make them automatically wrong and, of course, doesn't make you automatically right.

The whole "science is a religion" and "why won't they explain this or that?" shtick is silly. If some people treat "science" as "religion" it's because they're mistaken about science to begin with. But more often the "mistake" is intentional and political.

Of course many rational, scientifically-literate, reasonable people are accused of treating science like a religion by religious people who also mistake intellectual adherence for religious belief. And more often that "mistake" is also intentional and political.

And the reason why many moderate, scientifically-literate and reasonable people don't take the time to "explain their position" in response to such questions is two-fold: 1. The explanations are out there, in science, and can be easily learned. Again, this question treats an easily-researched scientific idea as if it's the same thing as a personal statement of faith.

2. You don't really care about the answer, and anything that is written in response is written in futility.

Less reasonable people on either "side" of the "debate" simply become defensive and begin an indiscriminate attack at their perceived enemy, never realizing that they're tilting at windmills.

former law student said...

Looking at The Descent of Man online, I see that Darwin is merely addressing three men's ideas about the inheritability of human characteristics. One of those guys was the father of eugenics, Francis Galton.

I don't see Darwin making a value judgment; merely that civilized man protects and preserves the weak among us.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@fls:

I don't see Darwin making a value judgment; merely that civilized man protects and preserves the weak among us.

The value judgment is here:

The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil. Hence we must bear without complaining the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely the weaker and inferior members of society not marrying so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased, though this is more to be hoped for than expected, by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage.

And Darrow also expressed moral judgments against eugenics:

We have neither facts nor theories to give us any evidence based on biology or any other branch of science as to how we could breed intelligence, happiness, or anything else that would improve the race. We have no idea of the meaning of the word “improvement.” We can imagine no human organization we could trust with the job, even if eugenists [sic] knew what should be done and the proper way to do it....Amongst the schemes for remolding society this is the most senseless and impudent that has ever been put forward by irresponsible fanatics to plague a long-suffering race.

Like I said, I don't care that creationists are wrong--I care that they lie.

former law student said...

GH: I was sloppy. What I meant was that Darwin made no value judgments of the type described above, no "speaking with approval," no "complaining," no "thinking it's injurious."

Darwin speaks with approval of the savage custom of eliminating the weak so that only the strong will survive, and complains that "we civilized men do our utmost to check the process of elimination." How inhuman such a doctrine as this! He thinks it injurious to "build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick" or to care for the poor.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@fls:

Darwin was a stock breeder, and he knew what stock breeders had known for ages about heredity and culling. Being an educated Victorian, he also knew that the Spartans had practiced eugenics and that Plato had advocated it in Republic.

I once did get a prominent creationist to admit this: his response was that by "Darwinism" he meant anything that kind of sounds like eugenics or evolution even if it was thought up thousands of years before Darwin.

Or maybe someone will dig up Darwin's time machine, and then it will be proved to have all been his fault...

Rialby said...

That reminds me of the joker (Ritmo? AL? Garage? WhoCares?) that was on here the other day suggesting that it was not wrong for Gawker to go after Christine O'Donnell because she would outlaw pre-marital sex. Uh huh.

Laika's Last Woof said...

"It's like 1773 all over again!"

stevenehrbar said...

If you're more hostile to Bryan than Stephen Jay Gould was, I seriously have to question whether you're really a defender of science and reason, or whether you're actually a religious fanatic who simply adheres to a nominally secular creed. Science and reason need no heresy-hunting inquisitors.

J said...

No, Palladian fool, yr the one who can't write, mormon dreck.

It should be a law that any and all mormons be disclosed by like a pink star--with honey-bee in it (and any and all "christians" should recall the church teachings on freemasons).

It is hereby decreed.

J said...

Darrow's statement demonstrates that he at least recognized the difference between legitimate Darwinian evolution (as far it was known at the time) and the eugenics/social darwinist craze of the right. Bryan, while a somewhat noble person and progressive of a sort (WJB correctly noted that many railroad barons of the time--Carnegie, Morgan, etc were social darwinists), didn't quite make it that far, and endlessly conflated the two, mostly because of his pious streak.

Palladian said...

Huh? I'm a Mormon? What?!

Dude, really, put down the spliff.

The Kenosha Kid said...

Ann Althouse said...

@Synova Is there any reason to think she was quoting Clarence Darrow and not the famous movie?


Because that's what she wrote in her tweet.

Joe Miller - do not give up. It's you against the machine. This is it. "'Lost causes' are the only ones worth fighting for." Clarence Darrow 8:44 PM Oct 29th via Twitter for BlackBerry®

Gabriel Hanna said...

@stevenehrbahr:

It wasn't the "Darwinists" who passed a law saying you couldn't teach Creation in Tennessee in 1925. It isn't the "Darwinists" who can't stomach the thought of any one's kids learning anything that might contradict their pet Bronze Age fable, and lobby state legislatures to pass laws that gut science education for everyone in state schools.

it's never enough for creationists that they can have religious schools and home schooling--they've got to gut it for everybody.

And you're blaming the scientists.

Typical.

I'll leave you with a thought from Bryan, which I quoted above:

"What is the taking of a few dollars from one. In day or night in comparison with the crime of leading one away from God and away from Christ?"

That's the creationists in a nut shell. That's their motivation.

JAL said...

Sure seems like Palin was quoting Mr. Smith. You know, given the story line and all ....

The point that (perhaps) Clarence Darrow said the same thing doesn't matter, really, does it?

(I thought it was the thought - the idea - that counted.)

Of interest though -- I just wiki-ed Mr. Smith Goes to Washington for the full scoop -- is the "IMPACT" section.

It's worth a look.

Ouch. Maybe someone can send the 20th Century American Culture Deprived Brian Beutler there. He could wear his Educated - Not Ignorant tee shirt.

Bruce Hayden said...

The problem with those who suggest that anyone who has problems with evolution is ignorant is that it isn't cut and dried.

Yes, the mechanics of limited evolution have been fairly well documented. Typically, you have a single genetic mistake, and it will either help, be neutral, or hurt the organism. But, that also means that short term gain may result in long term extinction if the trait starts the organism down a blind alley, or the environment changes too quickly.

A good example of this in us is three color vision. One of the two color vision genes got inadvertently duplicated. And then one of them got tuned through successive base pair exchanges to pick up red light, presumably allowing for better discernment of more nutritious plants. And, scientists have a pretty good idea of when it happened, since the trait is seen almost exclusively in old world monkeys (and their descendants), and not in new world monkeys.

That said, there are some major jumps in our genetics where upwards of a dozen genes have been changed, and we haven't found the intervening set of genes. And, given the probability of genetic change, etc., the jump is within, but not by very much, the statistically plausible range for this many successful mutations within the specific time period.

What this means is that there is room right now in evolution for intelligent design, at least as it pertains to us. Maybe normal evolution drove those major jumps, and maybe it was pushed a bit by some outside force. We may know enough in a decade or so to know definitively whether divine intervention could have had a part in our evolution or not.

And, not surprisingly, Gov. Palin's position here seems to be a lot less dogmatic that is so routinely portrayed. From what I heard her say today, I would put her in the intelligent design camp - where she does not discount the possibility that our evolution may have received a divine push or two towards where we are now. But she is clearly not a Creationist.

Rialby said...

Btw, it's projection. The Left assumes that the Right will do horrible things when they're in power because of their own authoritarian impulses.

Ann Althouse said...

@Kenosha You're right. I've added that to the post.

J said...

Well, you sound stupid enough , Pall. That, or a baptist-primate presumably.

The rightists quoting WJ Bryan--union boy-- also forget he was completely opposed to GOP-greedheads of the times. WSJ was a moralist, and a bit confused on Darwin, but not completely wrong on Social darwinism. FDR considered him an ally

TangoMan said...

Gabriel Hanna,

We, in the 21st century, agree that racism and eugenics are Bad Things.

Actually, we in the 21st Century don't all agree, otherwise we wouldn't be practicing Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis and other forms of positive eugenics.

Negative Eugenics in which the state practices coercion against individuals is no more the only variant of Eugenics than Internal Diversity is the only variant of Diversity.

To accept the formulation that Eugenics = Negative Eugenics and Diversity = Internal Diversity completely ignores the phenomenon of Positive Eugenics and External Diversity.

As for racism, that's another loaded term which is either broadly or narrowly defined, so there too I'm not really sure what you're talking about. Everyday we can read reports about new genetic differences of consequence that are found in the human genome which indicate that race has a genetic basis and thus is not solely a social construction. Believing that genetics underpins racial groups is seen by many as a form of racism. Other people define racism as expressing violence towards people of particular races.

Michael said...

J said "legitimate Darwinian evolution (as far it was known at the time)" So Darwinian evolution is itself evolving? Would be interested in your expansion of this idea.

sydney said...

Sorry to interrupt the evolution discussion, but I just finished watching Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. I often thought of that movie in 2008 when the press was making fun of Palin, but I last saw it so long ago I had forgotten just how relevant it is to today. The press making fun of him, senators who say they don't read bills because they can't understand them, establishment hoods trying to suppress the voice of the people. Wow.

J said...

SJ Gould's "punctuated equilibrium" was a modification of Darwin's theory (though not all Darwinists agree--Dawkins included).

sydney said...

Clarence Darrow said it, too. Presumably before Jimmy Stewart.

M. Simon said...

Who is this "Moises" of which you speak?

Would that be like Maishe?

JAL said...

TradGuy -- I'm usually with you, but really Mr. Smith is pretty dark (Capra, remember?)

I just got back from spending hours at the Mighty 8th Air Force Museum just down the road from you (Exit 102 off I-95) in Pooler, GA.

James Stewart flew 20 missions as a bomber pilot for the 8th.

I don't think that turned Jimmy Stewart into a bitter man, as I don't think he was. Anymore than the former B-17 navigator who helped guide us through some of the displays, as he told us (with some coaxing) of his 25 missions and survival after being shot down.

The museum is an amazing record of one amazing group of people (the Americans, the Brits, the resistance, the "Helpers") who saved civilization in the 20th century.

If any of you get that way -- stop and spend a couple hours reacquainting yourself with a dark time in the world and how it was turned.

And after that one can ignore with even more confidence those stupid bumper stickers that say "War Never Solved Anything."

I think Sarah Palin and many many Americans identify more with "Mr. Smith" and overcoming challenges than they do with the Educated Not Ignorant crowd who have to put it on their tee shirts to make some point. Which is often wrong.

Michael said...

J: How can scientists disagree about settled science?

M. Simon said...

So Darwinian evolution is itself evolving? Would be interested in your expansion of this idea.

Uh. Well. It is like, you know, science. Where there are no fixed truths. Just fixed evidence and the best understanding of that evidence.

Of course there can also be errors in evidence - look up the history of the speed of light and Michelson.

WV: chipalin - Wooo Hoooooooooooo!

Gabriel Hanna said...

@TangoMan:

Actually, we in the 21st Century don't all agree, otherwise we wouldn't be practicing Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis and other forms of positive eugenics.


We'd also be marrying people at random instead of choosing attractive and smart mates with desirable personalities.

If "eugenics" doesn't involve coercion you've distorted the meaning.

Everyday we can read reports about new genetic differences of consequence that are found in the human genome which indicate that race has a genetic basis and thus is not solely a social construction. Believing that genetics underpins racial groups is seen by many as a form of racism. Other people define racism as expressing violence towards people of particular races.

I personally wouldn't define racism in any of these ways. If anyone cares what I think I'd define it this way--treating an individual as though he were a stereotype.

@Michael:

So Darwinian evolution is itself evolving? Would be interested in your expansion of this idea.

It's been 150 years since Darwin wrote Origin of Species. Biologists have learned a great deal of things that Darwin never knew, and proved wrong a number of things which he accepted.

Thousands of biologists have contributed. It is not Darwin's theory any more, he was just the trailblazer. This is why I put "Darwinism" in scare quotes.

Literal creationists worship the letter of a book and cannot imagine that scientists are not doing the same, hence they spend so much time parsing (and quoting out of context) sentences from Origin of Species.

M. Simon said...

Funny thing is: if you look up the DNA evidence for the evolution of Jewish intelligence what we know so far does support social Darwinism.

It is good to be Jewish. But a lot of my precursors died or intermarried to get me here. unlucky for them. Lucky for me.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Michael:

J: How can scientists disagree about settled science?

Are you trolling now?

Did you miss that whole Einstein-Newton thing?

Scientists disagree about "settled science" all the time. The difference between them and creationists is that scientists don't like about each others' work and have put a lot of year into understanding the material.

M. Simon said...

Btw, it's projection. The Left assumes that the Right will do horrible things when they're in power because of their own authoritarian impulses.

The Right has its own authoritarian impulses. Just try criticizing the Drug War among a group of righties:

Low Ratings

You will find suggestions like "kill all dopers" not uncommon.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Michael:

I'll assume you're not trolling.

Darwin had no idea how heredity worked. It didn't matter that much for his idea, because to have evolution by natural selection you need two things:

a) inherited characteristics
b) which have different effects on survival

Darwin also accepted that environmental effects could be inherited; for example if you chopped a mouse's tail off its children would have slightly shorter tails, and this idea (Lamarckism) is now discredited. It was briefly revived in the Soviet Union, which dealt with "Darwinists" in the same way it dealt with everyone who didn't follow the government line.

Not everything in the biological world is best explained by natural selection. Lynn Margulis made her name in biology by showing that natural selection is probably not solely responsible for the cell nucleus.

Then there's the "punctuated equilibrium" idea which I never really could figure out, it always sounded to me like it was a response to a caricature of normal evolution.

There's also group selection and kin selection which are always argued about.

Reliapundit said...

had the Creator decided to describe Creation as a 21st C physicist might try today, then not one person would've gotten and dang thing out of it.

oh, and BTW: not a single great physicist can explain creation.

they can't explain wither the distribution of matter in the observable universe not the fact that it is still accelerating.

I ASK YOU ATHEISTS OUT THERE - WHO THINK BELIEVERS LIKE ME ARE ATTACHED TO BRONZE AGE FAIRYTALES:

please tell me:

what force could possibly be making all those BILLIONS of galaxies race ever faster?

what force could be possibly creating new energy and matter 15 billion light years after the big bang? and moving it about in ways and in places that no laws can explain?

I say that G-D passes Occam's Razor.

AND ANOTHER THING:

why do so MANY people have faith in the big bang or dark matter or dark energy - in theories they don't truly understand,

and yet make fun of those of us who have faith in G-D - which we cannot fully explain or ever understand?

it's hypocritical.

I CHOOSE TO BE A JEW AND BELIEVE IN JUDAISM BECAUSE JEWS AND JUDAISM HAVE BROUGHT MORE LIGHT INTO THE WORLD THAN ALL THE EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGISTS AND PHYSICISTS COMBINED.

and i accept that much of the Bible is FIGURATIVE truth, metaphorical and mysterious.

true in deeper ways than any moral can fathom.

i know the genesis creation story is true on many levels, and can be misapplied and misunderstood, too.

i think when it is taken literally it is being misunderstood.

it aims US at a higher truth.

M. Simon said...

That reminds me of the joker (Ritmo? AL? Garage? WhoCares?) that was on here the other day suggesting that it was not wrong for Gawker to go after Christine O'Donnell because she would outlaw pre-marital sex. Uh huh.

Would that be for everyone or just born again virgins?

Do mechanical aids count?

BTW I'm an O'Donnell fan. We should have a Congress full of crazies so the legislature gets the respect it deserves.

traditionalguy said...

JAL...I understand that Stewart flew several additional missions after a promotion but he wasn't listed as on those missions because he was flying against requirements of the new commander status. Then he became mentally disabled for an extended period of time after witnessing so many of his friends killed by the Germans. He tried after the war to act the old Jimmy Stewart roles like that combat stress never happened. But in his career thereafter he then found it much easier play roles showing a mean and instinctive desire to kill his opponents before they killed his friends. Life happens.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Reliapundit:

I say that G-D passes Occam's Razor.

Physicist: Given the laws of nature we can explain the universe as we see it.

Reliapundit: That's stupid! Where did your laws of nature come from! You have to have God to make the laws of nature! And God doesn't have to come from anywhere, I have a license to assume Him!

Res ipsa loquitur. If you get to assume God then why don't I get to assume laws of nature? Having invoked Occams' Razor you proceed to chop your own head off with it.

I don't know enough about what God is supposed to be to say that he doesn't exist--I can't say that invisible unicorns don't live at the bottom of the sea either. But the talking snakes and the worldwide flood, yes they are Bronze Age fairy tales, learned by the Jews from the Sumerians via the Babylonians.

I read the Bible pretty often, there is a great deal to learn from it. But I don't learn science from it, and don't expect to get unbiased history out of it either.

M. Simon said...


what force could possibly be making all those BILLIONS of galaxies race ever faster?

what force could be possibly creating new energy and matter 15 billion light years after the big bang? and moving it about in ways and in places that no laws can explain?

I say that G-D passes Occam's Razor.


The realm of God diminishes as our understanding increases. Many things once ascribed to God now have better explanations.

I expect the realm of God to diminish as understanding increases.

And yet I'm a believer. Probably because I saw her face.

The fact that we currently have no good explanation for a particular fact does not mean we should be ascribing it to God. In the long run the odds are against it.

Gabriel Hanna said...

You know what's funny is that while I am attacking creationism and creationists here, on another forum I am defending people who accept God and evolution.

JAL said...

@ GH
Like, 40% of Americans. It's not a fringe idea.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Earth_creationism


Err ... the actual quote is: ...include around 10-45% of American adults, depending on various polls....

But the question is why does any of the above discussion matter in the context of the Professor's fisking of Buetler?

Who gives a rats fanny what Sarah Palin thinks about evolution or some of the stuff that isnt going to matter on the national level, really? (Do you know who she appointed to the AK Supreme Court when she was governor? Thought not.)

Do you guys have any idea what crazy ideas politicians of all stripes think? Come on guys ... DENNIS KUCINICH for crying out loud!

Tom Harkin is responsible for taxpayers losing $2.5 billion in useless (all negative!) research into "alternative" therapies through his NCCAM.

And yes, the Rs have Dan Burton. He's an anti-vax nut. But it doesn't mean he can't hold office.

And then of course we have the food fight over whose ancestors believed what. As if that made a difference.

As for eugenicists? Add Margaret Sanger.

Why not stay on topic and marvel at what motivates the people who only know how to try to keep sliming Sarah Palin.

Weird.

TangoMan said...

Gabriel Hanna,

We'd also be marrying people at random instead of choosing attractive and smart mates with desirable personalities.

Precisely.

If "eugenics" doesn't involve coercion you've distorted the meaning.

Not at all. Eugenics speaks to the goal of improving the human species. It's not necessary to use coercion and employ barbaric ethics and procedures in order to advance that goal.

Coercion is simply an implementation of tactics. Negative Eugenics relies on coercion and centralized decision making as principal tactics while Positive Eugenics relies on free choice and decentralized decision making as the principal tactics. Both forms of eugenics work towards the same goal of improving the stock of humanity

If, as you claim, coercion is baked into eugenics, then what do you call the activities which comprise positive eugenics and work towards the same goal as negative eugenics?

It would be inaccurate to argue that American Politics is the activity of governing society though the implementation of Democratic Party policies. The Democratic Party policies are only one style of governance. There are also Republican Party policies which can be used to guide the governance of society.

We see the same tactics at work with the philosophy of "diversity." There is internal diversity which most people simply know as "diversity" which is that each institution should be diverse in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, or whatever descriptor one feels appropriate. However, as internal diversity increases it decreases external diversity, such that as one moves from one institution practicing internal diversity to other institutions practicing the same, there is little diversity between the institutions. External diversity has been lost.

External diversity is a concept that is as valid as internal diversity, and to equate diversity with only internal diversity completely eliminates from the public discourse the concept of external diversity.

There is nothing baked into the cake regarding the term diversity which implies that only internal diversity qualifies as the only acceptable form of diversity anymore than coercion is baked into the definitional cake of eugenics.

My point isn't to sidetrack the discussion, I just wanted to voice my disagreement with your sweeping statement because I believed it was based on ill-defined concepts.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@TangoMan:

Eugenics speaks to the goal of improving the human species.

When people get married they are usually not thinking of improving the species. They are (if they are responsible) thinking about how they mate will be as a parent and a provider for their children.

Likewise with genetic profiling and gene therapy people are trying to avoid having kids with genetic diseases, not out of an abstract desire to "improve" the species but to prevent their unborn children from suffering.

So, no, I don't think these things are properly called "eugenics". The goal isn't the same and the means aren't the same.

Synova said...

"This is a nice bit of historical revisionism, but it is completely false, and you have to completely ignore what was said at the trial in order to believe it."

"This" in this case is the charge that the textbook in question taught eugenic ideas about heritability of virtue and the relative value of different people.

"Completely false" is an absolute statement.

Now, I haven't seen the text book. I would love to be able to see the text book to find out what it actually says, because I've heard the charge as well that evolution was a minor element of a science text book that took for granted that some people were more advanced than others and spent far more time on ideas supporting eugenics than it did on evolution.

I believe the rumor I heard named eastern Europeans as the subject of the "science" included about heritability.

Evolution might be science, but the habit of including as assumed facts the political prejudices of the day is prevalent in current science textbooks, so it's entirely believable that it was present in the text book involved in the Scopes trial.

"What was said at the trial" is irrelevant to claims about what *else* was in the textbook, and thus the context of thought at the time.

Synova said...

Eugenics means "good genes", and that is all it means.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Synova:

The purpose of the law was to prevent the teaching of anything which contradicted the Bible. I quoted the text of the law in support, and since you missed it here it is again:

That it shall be unlawful for any teacher in any of the Universities, Normals and all other public schools of the State which are supported in whole or in part by the public school funds of the State, to teach any theory that denies the Story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals."


Where does it say "race" or "eugenics", Synova?

Scopes was not convicted and fined for teaching racism or eugenics. He was convicted and fined for teaching science contradictory to the Bible.

There's a lot of stuff in that textbook that is scientifically wrong, Synova, though it was the best they had at the time--but the only thing that Bryan and the Tennessee Legislature cared about was contradicting the Bible.

I quoted paragraphs and paragraphs from in support of that. Which you just ignored, I guess.

Seriously, read Bryan's closing statement. I quoted maybe a tenth or a twentieth of it. It's all God, Bible, Jesus.

Not one word on race. Very little on eugenics.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Synova:

Eugenics means "good genes", and that is all it means.

Genes were not imagined yet when that word was coined.

http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/50078696?

Pertaining or adapted to the production of fine offspring, esp. in the human race.

"gene" and "eugenic" have the same root and etymology, but not the same meaning.

former law student said...

Who is this "Moises" of which you speak?

Would that be like Maishe?


Maybe s/he meant Felipe Alou's boy? But that would have been the Expos, not the Pterodactyls.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Synova:

Bryan's closing argument can be found here:


http://www.csudh.edu/oliver/smt310-handouts/wjb-last/wjb-last.htm


The one paragraph that addresses anything like eugenics was already quoted by RichardS. All the rest of that pages and pages is stuff like this:

The statute is brief and free, from ambiguity. It prohibits the teaching, in the public schools, of "any theory that denies the story of divine creation as taught in the Bible," and teaches, instead, that man descended from a lower order of animals. The first sentence sets forth the purpose of those who passed the law. They forbid the teaching of any evolutionary theory that, disputes the Bible record of man's creation and, make sure that there shall be no misunderstanding, they place their own interpretation on their language and specifically forbid the teaching of any theory that makes man a descendant of any lower form of life....Our first indictment against evolution is that it disputes the truth of the Bible account of man's creation and shakes faith in the Bible as the word of God. This indictment we prove by comparing the processes described. as evolutionary with the text of Genesis. It not only contradicts the Mosaic record as to the beginning of human life, but it disputes the Bible doctrine of reproduction according to kind - the greatest scientific principle known....Our second indictment is that the evolutionary hypothesis, carried to its logical conclusion, disputes every vital truth of the Bible. Its tendency, natural, if not inevitable, is to lead those who really accept it, first to agnosticism and then to atheism. Evolutionists attack the truth of the Bible, not openly at first, but by using weasel-words like "poetical," "symbolical" and "allegorical" to suck the meaning out of the inspired record of man's creation....If we believe that God can perform a miracle and might desire to do so, we are prepared to consider with open mind the third question, namely - did God perform the miracles recorded in the Bible? The same evidence that establishes the authority of the Bible establishes the truth of the record of miracles performed....He who spake as never man spake thus describes the crimes that are committed against the young: "It is impossible but that offenses will come; but woe unto him through whom they come. It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and be cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones."

Christ did not overdraw the picture. Who is able to set a price upon the life of a child - a child into whom a mother has poured her life and for whom a father has labored? What may a noble life mean to the child itself, to the parents and to the world?

And it must be remembered that we can measure the effect on only that part of life which is spent on earth; we have no way of calculating the effect on that infinite circle of life of which existence here is but a small arc. The soul is immortal and religion deals with the soul; the logical effect of the evolutionary hypothesis is to undermine religion and thus affect the soul. I recently received a list of questions that were to be discussed in a prominent Eastern school for women. The second question in the list read "'is religion an obsolescent function that should be allowed to atrophy quietly without arousing the passionate prejudice of outworn superstition?" The real attack of evolution, it will be seen, is not upon orthodox Christianity, or even upon Christianity, but upon religion - the most basic fact in man's existence and the most practical thing in life....


I can quote DOZENS of paragraphs like that one. Come on, Synova.

former law student said...

if you look up the DNA evidence for the evolution of Jewish intelligence what we know so far does support social Darwinism

The smarter you were the more kids you had?

I knew a Jew, last name Simon once. He was a forklift operator. His sister had a used workclothes store. If they were supersmart they concealed it from me.

TangoMan said...

When people get married they are usually not thinking of improving the species. They are (if they are responsible) thinking about how they mate will be as a parent and a provider for their children.

Similarly, when people are making individual economic decisions to increase their marginal benefits, they're not thinking of the economic welfare of society, yet the invisible hand is still at work.

Parents need not be thinking of how their individual decisions can improve the human species, but by acting on decisions which improve the genetic quality of their own offspring, which is their principal concern, they're still fulfilling the goals of eugenics.

Likewise with genetic profiling and gene therapy people are trying to avoid having kids with genetic diseases, not out of an abstract desire to "improve" the species but to prevent their unborn children from suffering.

Procedures used today to prevent disease will be used tomorrow to enhance quality of life. As per above, the individual in a decentralized scheme need not be motivated by the fulfillment of a grand vision all they need to do is play their part in helping the grand vision come to fruition. The invisible hand again. People want a healthy growing economy but they can't create this through single handed action, yet simply by working to better their own lot in life they play a part in moving society towards having a healthy, growing economy.

So, no, I don't think these things are properly called "eugenics". The goal isn't the same and the means aren't the same.

How does one define "properly?" There are dictionary definitions which distinguish between positive and negative eugenics. Sure, those are appeals to authority but they still speak to the dynamics which I've referenced in my prior comments.

Alternatively, you can look back to the modern-day originator of the concept of eugenics, Francis Galton, and note that in his book Hereditary Genius he distinguished between positive and negative forms of eugenics, with the differences focused on tactics, not goals, for both forms resulted in an improvement of the human species. Now obviously the two concepts have evolved since he published in 1869 and the horrors of coercive negative eugenics have influenced a more decentralized conceptualization of positive eugenics than was envisioned by Galton, but the roots of the distinction have pretty much remained unchanged.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@fls:

I knew a Jew, last name Simon once. He was a forklift operator. His sister had a used workclothes store. If they were supersmart they concealed it from me.

Does anyone anywhere think that if Jews, on average, are smarter than everyone else that means no Jew anywhere is not supersmart?

Jeez, fls. Think before you post, huh?

See what I said above about treating individuals as a stereotype?

The statement about Jews is that their intelligence AVERAGES higher than that of other groups. It is not a controversial statement, and if your ignorance of statistics is such that you think it means NO JEW ANYWHERE CAN BE DUMB, you are not qualified to comment on it.

Otherwise, I have to conclude you deliberately made a fallacious statement to mislead people--which is what I castigate creationists for.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@TangoMan:

Similarly, when people are making individual economic decisions to increase their marginal benefits, they're not thinking of the economic welfare of society, yet the invisible hand is still at work.

We'll call that a positive planned economy, as opposed to a negative planned economy where the economic welfare is dictated by the state.

See, my objection to your flavors of eugenics is the same.

Synova said...

"I can quote DOZENS of paragraphs like that one. Come on, Synova."

So?

I didn't say anything at all about the trial. Made no claims about the trial.

I said that I had heard that the *textbook* had one short passage on evolution, hardly mentioning it at all, but several pages on assumptions and accepted notions of heritability of traits related to people groups that we would find appalling today with our modern sensibilities.

Who gives a shit what was in the trial? IF what I had heard was correct the fact that that science textbook used to teach our (long ago) children included these fashionable at-the-time assumptions is damning.

Fashion changed, mostly because people saw what Hitler did with the "benign" positive eugenics that disguised the concepts and made them palatable to the Americans and Brits.

Evolution and genetic inheritance aren't the same thing, of course they're not. But they still tie together in the public mind in ideas about who had those good-genes and who didn't and what to do about the inferior people groups.

Synova said...

BTW, the terms positive eugenics and negative eugenics aren't something that someone here just pulled out of his butt.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Synova:

Who gives a shit what was in the trial? IF what I had heard was correct the fact that that science textbook used to teach our (long ago) children included these fashionable at-the-time assumptions is damning.


I see. It is "damning" that science textbooks in one year fall short of the standards of science 100 years in the future--but nobody should give a shit about making state laws that say you cannot teach any science that contradicts the Bible.

Spare me any further concern trolling about science then, okay?

At issue in the Scopes Trial was, does the state have the right to teach the Bible in science class? And you think it's fair to decide that question by science a hundred years in the future?

I notice that you don't hold the creationists in that story to the same standard--when practically the entire country believes in racism and eugenics, only the science books are to be "damned" for it.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Synova:

I said that I had heard that the *textbook* had one short passage on evolution,

Nice. Your passion to discover the truth is OUTSTANDING.

Do you bother to look anything up, or try to provide any sort of evidence to support this statement? No?

But you expect the authors of the textbook to have had a time machine, apparently.

If that book had had Biblically-consistent racism and eugenics, the good people of Tennessee would have had no problem with it. Because it had sections which contradicted the Bible, it was illegal.

And to you the SCIENTISTS are the one doing bad science.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Synova:

Incidentally, Hunter's Civic Biology was the text required by the State of Tennessee!

OBVIOUSLY they didn't have a problem with the racism and eugenics! They didn't pass any laws prohibiting THAT! They didn't pass any laws prohibiting the textbook.

All they prohibited was ANYTHING CONTRARY TO THE BIBLE!

Scopes was fined for assigning the chapter on evolution, not for anything the book said about eugenics or racism.

former law student said...

Think before you post, huh?

In industry we try first to reduce the standard deviation, then increase the mean.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@fls:

In industry we try first to reduce the standard deviation, then increase the mean.

Is this intended to be an excuse for your flagrant distortion of statistics?

What on earth has that to do with what you said? You gave an anecdote about two Jews you knew that didn't appear to be smarter than average, intending people to think that this disproved somehow that Jews are smarter than average.

Since I see you know what means and standard deviations are, I have to conclude you did it on purpose.

I don't see how to let you off the hook for that. Clearly you're not dumb, clearly you are educated--why do you need to lie to people to discredit an idea you disagree with? Can't you cite true things to discredit it?

Gabriel Hanna said...

@fls:

Surely you have to acknowledge that the Jews in your anecdote, if they are just average, can't tell you about the whole population by themselves, now can they?

If those two are at the 50th percentile for the general population and for Jews, then Jews on average AREN'T smarter. If those two are at the 50th percentile for the general population but at the 10th percentile for Jews, then Jews on the average ARE smarter (scary smart beyond fears of the most paranoid anti-Semite, in this made-up example).

I mean, surely you know that? Then why would you give only a tiny piece of the story to give the opposite impression?

Gabriel Hanna said...

Okay, well I'm tired of arguing with like 15 people and it's late EVEN on the West Coast, so anyone else who is up feel free to get your licks in.

Anthony said...

As a Catholic I personally find teh whole intellgient design/creationist/Darwinist thing boring and annoying. I believe both in the Descent of Man and the Creed. The usual creationist/ID answer is that their are gaps in our knowledge and that God fills those gaps. By trying to make God a God of the Gaps, the creationists/IDers reduce God. They take the story of redemption and turn it into a discussion about how long God reviewed the blueprints for the earthworm.

Amadeo said...

Hopefully, Ms. Althouse can clarify her statements:

"But even assuming Clarence Darrow should be anathema to Sarah Palin, the quote — " 'Lost causes' are the only ones worth fighting for" — isn't from Clarence Darrow. It's from the book that became the movie "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.""

The film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), which popularized the quote, is said to be based on an unpublished story of Lewis R. Foster, The Gentleman from Montana/The Gentleman from Wyoming, though the quote came from Ethel Lina White's The Wheel Spins(1936), which in turn was the basis for a movie by Hitchcook, the Lady Vanishes (1939). BTW, Darrow died in 1938 so it is possible he lifted that quote from the book. Or he had said it before the book was published?

Paco Wové said...

Mr. Hanna - you have been on fire in this thread. I salute you.

AllenS said...

Sounds like Beutler is just making shit up. Seems like a lot of people are doing that lately. For instance, I'm still waiting for any evidence Palin got a huge bounce from Althouse's endorsement. Without Althouse, Sarah Palin would still be sitting on a PTA committee in Wasilla. I think that is a bunch of made up shit. Shameless? Ignorant?

Robin said...

How did this become a debate on evolution? In order to feel justified at misrepresenting others views so as to make slimy comments about them being like Himmler?

Vile and vulgar creatures, these Democrats.

former law student said...

Tsk, tsk, GH, substituting name calling for argument.

Compare: the smartest men are smarter than the smartest women, as the dumbest men are dumber. But on the average, men are no smarter: the standard deviation for intelligence for men is greater.

The other guy argued that eugenics made Jews smarter. Did it? In what way? Did it change the standard deviation? Did it shift the mean?

Then, if it did, the question is "How did it?" Were stupid people forbidden marriage? Did smart people have more children than stupid people? Does that mean there were no poor but smart people? Further, even assuming that the smartest men could support the largest families, does that mean that smart men never married dumb women?

Maguro said...

Then, if it did, the question is "How did it?"

Why would "it" work differently on human beings than it does in any other life form that's been shaped by evolution? Natural selection works by traits becoming more or less common in a population due to consistent effects upon the survival or reproduction of their bearers. Human intelligence is just another trait that's influenced by genetics so it would work the same way.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@fls:

Did it change the standard deviation? Did it shift the mean?


However it got that way, American Jews have a mean IQ of 107.5. About half a standard deviation above the mean, which doesn't seem like a lot until you get to the extreme where, say, the ability to get a Nobel Prize in physics is.

Then, if it did, the question is "How did it?" Were stupid people forbidden marriage? Did smart people have more children than stupid people? Does that mean there were no poor but smart people? Further, even assuming that the smartest men could support the largest families, does that mean that smart men never married dumb women?

So once again you are back to childish misrepresentations of statistics.

All that would have to happen is for Jewish people to prefer smarter mates for some reason, even a slight preference, and keep it up for generations. They weren't allowed to marry non-Jews for about a fifteen hundred years, remember.

There doesn't need to be any forbidding of marrying dumb people, we don't have to assume that no smart Jew ever married a stupid one or any other moronic and unrealistic condition that you dream up to try to discredit the idea.

Here's a tip:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_selection_in_human_evolution

Do you think peacocks ALWAYS had more offspring if they had longer tails? Do you think NO peahen could EVER have mated with a short-tailed peacock?

Really, fls, do you do it on purpose? Do you deliberately misrepresent statistics to mislead people? Did you learn that in law school? Or do you just not know what you are talking about and prefer to make things up, like you did when you suggested homosexuality is determined by the Y chromosome with the sex of the child?

thomasrhall said...

In regards to Clarence Darrow "lost causes", I have a vague memory of Orson Welles using the quote in the film Compulsion (based on the Leopold-Loeb murder in which Welles plays the defense attorney modeled on Darrow). I can't find a clip on line that proves this.

However, while searching the web, I found several references to Clarence Darrow and the "lost causes" quote. For example see: http://www.clarencedarrowfoundation.org/Clarence_Darrow_search_for_justice.html

former law student said...

Here's a tip:

Here's a tip for you: Even butt ugly people get married and reproduce. Or reproduce, anyway. There was an unwed mother in our neighborhood who was so ugly your eyes would water if you looked at her too long. But she put out.

How does "eugenics" work if everyone can marry and everyone can reproduce? "Preferring smarter mates" is like "lifting yourself up by your own bootstraps." How does it work in practice?

AlphaLiberal said...

Ann Althouse engages in strawman argumentation, a.k.a. "mental masturbation:

Is there any evidence, anywhere, that Sarah Palin would like to criminalize the teaching of evolution?

I don't know but Beutler didn't say that. STRAWMAN ALERT!

Strawman arguing is public mental masturbation because you are arguing with yourself.

Is there any evidence, anywhere, that Sarah Palin doesn't love our constitutional free expression rights? Is there evidence, anywhere, that Sarah Palin would not admire a lawyer who fought to defend free speech rights against the oppressive government use of criminal law against a science teacher?

Good God, this reads like a love letter to Sarah Palin! Yes, there is plenty of evidence of these things. That is, unless you are blinded by your love for Sarah Palin.

AlphaLiberal said...

Here is your evidence, Ann, if you can see it with your new blinders on:

“Teach both,” Palin said. “You know, don’t be afraid of information… I am a proponent of teaching both.” Link

And if a teacher refuses to teach evolution in a science class (because it is not science)?

And in her book, Going Rogue, she says:

She "didn't believe in the theory that human beings -- thinking, loving beings -- originated from fish that sprouted legs and crawled out of the sea." Nor from "monkeys who eventually swung down from the trees."

traditionalguy said...

Alpha...The Palin Monster only says teach up to the limits of what is known so far. Every 10 years the way we see things changes. Let Science be science and question everything. Intelligent design is only another question that needs an answer since we have discovered so much more than Darwin knew. Naturally selected genetic birth defects making another creature from parents unlike their offspring is a possibility too. So study both. And what was the story behind the Cambrian Explosion again? I so love fairy tales.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@fls:

How does "eugenics" work if everyone can marry and everyone can reproduce?

Your arguments are getting postively creationist now. Are you doing it on purpose? Are you too stupid to see that your bullshit objection to "eugenics" is identical to the bullshit objections creationists have to evolution?

All that has to happen--and if you'd read what I'd link to you'd know it--is that there needs to be DIFFERENTIAL REPRODUCTIVE SUCCESS. Not NO SUCCESS AT ALL FOR UGLY OR DUMB PEOPLE.

All that needs to happen is for "desireable" traits, whether they be height, intelligence, skin color, shape of eyes, build, whatever--to be CORRELATED with having better success at reproduction.

To head off your NEXT moronic objection:

CORRELATION: an interdependence of two or more variable quantities such that a change in the value of one is associated with a change in the value or the expectation of the others; also, the value of this as represented by a correlation coefficient.

Correlation CAN take values between 0 and 1--somebody who knows all about mean and standard deviation SURELY knows that.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@traditional guy:

And what was the story behind the Cambrian Explosion again? I so love fairy tales.

The "fairy tale" is that the Cambrian Explosion happened "suddenly" out of "nowhere".

The reality is that it took place over 80 MILLION YEARS, with plenty of fossilized precursors.

Don't rely on creationists to accurately characterize science--as I have amply documented here, they lie.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@fls:

I think I'm beginning to grasp the root of your confusion. I think you are asking "where does the 'smartness' or whatever is 'desirable' come from in the first place".

Well, it's called genetic diversity. In every population you have a range of attributes. Let's use height.

Take a population with a Gaussian distribution of height. Height is not an either/or proposition like blue eyes, but many genes coupled with environment conspire to produce it. Now, for some reason, let's imagine that the tall people, ON AVERAGE, like to marry tall people in preference to short people (I don't know, maybe they are just jerks). Of course this doesn't mean that tall people NEVER marry short people or that short people aren't ALLOWED to get married.

If it is kept up for many generations, the tall people who are more likely to mate with each other, will average taller, because they've cut out some percentage of the left hand side of the distribution of tallness genes. And in each generation they do it again--which is also known as "evolution", in this case by sexual selection and not by natural selection. If they keep it up long enough, their height will top out because they will have concentrated all the available tallness genes--the genetic diversity is used up and they'd have to have new mutations to get taller. In an extreme case they could have identical sets of tallness genes, though it is unlikely for something controlled by so many genes. (But it would be very easy to produce a blue eyed population.)

In the meanwhile, the shorter people had trouble attracting taller mates and they were more likely to mate with each other, and so they were cutting off the part of the right hand side, but eventually they too use up the available diversity.

In the end, the distribution OVERALL of the tallness and shortness genes remains the same, but the distribution is more bimodal. The genes never disappeared, and new ones didn't come out of nowhere, they just got distributed differently.

If you object to that, thinking you are scoring points on eugenics by doing so, you are actually objecting to evolution of any kind, but particularly what creationists call "microevolution"--which would make YOU wackier than THEM.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_selection

Gabriel Hanna said...

@fls:

Like you, I agree that a coercive program of eugenics is evil. I have grave doubts that any group of people could manage heredity better than they manage, say, economies; I oppose eugenics for the same reason I oppose central planning of the economy.

The difference between us, fls, is this: you apparently think that "eugenics" can't possibly work. But you can breed horse, dogs, cows, and cats to get the traits you want, including "personality" and "intelligence", and of course you could do the same with people.

It would just be evil to do that. But denying the possibility puts you in the camp of those who reject science.

I'm not saying that Jews deliberately tried to make themselves smarter or anything like that--but like any relatively isolated population they differ genetically from the population mean in many ways. I don't think you can chalk this up to "eugenics" any more than you can chalk up the sickle-cell adaptation to "eugenics"--I don't think that Jews had a goal in mind when they made their rules about marriage just like I don't think that sub-saharan Africans tried to breed malaria-resistence into themselves. But when a population is reproductively isolated (and I don't mean ABSOLUTELY, before you post your NEXT moronic oversimplification), these things happen. Whether you want them to or not. Sub-saharan Africans DO tend to have genetic resistence to malaria (which has tragic consequences outside of malarial regions). And American Jews DO tend to do better on IQ tests; though to what degree it can be chalked up to heredity is an open question, the fact that SOME of it can be chalked up to heredity is not.

Refusing to acknowledge facts that make you uncomfortable makes you anti-science, whether you make the right noises about evolution in schools or not.

traditionalguy said...

But Gabriel...If cells of life popped into being from nucleotides in a soup 4 billion years ago and worked their way up to worms, but then took only 80 million years to birth defect their way up to all known phylla in two ten thousands of that time, that is is a pretty good explosion, all things being relative. Why cannot the best theory yet besides God be explored more; that is, the arrival of life here from an outer space invasion? We do want to discuss the evidence don't we?

former law student said...

GH, your 3:00 makes sense, that people with desirable traits would tend to marry each other, while people lacking desirable traits would have to settle for each other. But it seems to me that would enlarge the standard deviation of the trait distribution, as you had extra bright people at one end and barely functioning at the other. Would there be people literally too stupid to live? I suppose the really handicapped find it difficult to attract a mate.

But the learning disabled people I have known were not just the tail of a distribution -- they had Down syndrome, or in the case of a guy I worked with, his daughter was oxygen deprived during labor.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@traditionalguy:

We do want to discuss the evidence don't we?

Where is your evidence for life from outer space? All the life we've ever heard of is HERE. Maybe some day we'll find it--and if instead of DNA it turns out to have any of innumerable other chemicals which could fulfill that function, then we'll have pretty good evidence that life on earth didn't come from there. Until you find the evidence, why should it go in the science book? Nobody can prove there's no such thing as a pink unicorn, does that mean we have to put it in the book if someone thinks there could be one?

Where's your evidence for God designing life? Have you ever SEEN a God, or seen one design something? How does He tinker with genes, does He use magic, tiny tweezers, what? Why does it take billions of years? Why does He only ever make tiny tweaks at a time? Why do the vast majority of his designs go extinct? Why do all organisms strongly appear to be related if each is a separate design?

You have no evidence whatsoever to address ANY of these questions. Going where the evidence leads leads you to evolution by natural selection and the common descent of life on earth, which is why those things are in the science book and organisms poofing into existence according to the inscrutable motives of an intelligence whose abilities and attributes you refuse to define and think you need no evidence for, don't.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@fls:

But it seems to me that would enlarge the standard deviation of the trait distribution, as you had extra bright people at one end and barely functioning at the other. Would there be people literally too stupid to live?

That doesn't follow from what I said. Go back to the tallness example. What you are suggesting is like saying that the short people should end up at zero height and wink out of existence, and that the tall people should tower over the treetops.

Or go back to peacocks. You think male peacocks escape from predators very easily? Their reproductive success offsets that, though--if you have more kids you don't need to live as long. Contrariwise, think of a cat that lives to be a hundred but eats its babies--no reproductive success there either.

But the learning disabled people I have known were not just the tail of a distribution -- they had Down syndrome, or in the case of a guy I worked with, his daughter was oxygen deprived during labor.

Now you are on to two entirely separate issues.

Down syndrome is a chromosome duplication error and I don't think it's heritable, though I could be wrong. In my analogy this would be like a tall person who had their feet amputated. He might only find a short mate in that case, but there's always some percentage of tall people who do.

Oxygen-deprived babies are like the children of tall parents who are malnourished--they can't express their genetic potential. If a "tall child's" growth was stunted he might be socially treated as a short one and have trouble finding a tall mate, but then again there's always some percentage of tall people who do anyway.

I wasn't talking about either of those things.

I was talking about people, but that have a trait that varies in the population correlated with their genetic inheritance.

Suppose instead of height the trait was "likelihood of being hit by meteors". This is not an inherited trait--meteors hit things or don't at random. There's nothing your genes could do to change the odds. And so that could be selected for.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@fls:

And so that could be NOT be selected for.

Anyway, I don't know why you started going in on the learning disabled. There's a big difference between not being as bright as average, and being learning disabled.

If you've got a genetic variation in something, you can concentrate it and "get more of it", by natural, sexual, or artificial selection. Up to a point.

I've been trying to prod you into examples on height because height doesn't carry a value judgment. Of course we all assume that it is better to be smart and worse to be dumb, but as far as natural selection goes that's nonsense.

Beetles aren't the smartest, strongest, fastest, toughest, or most fecund animals but you could argue they are the most successful, overall. Likewise sharks aren't smart, and don't need to be. Koalas don't seem to be good at ANYTHING that I can tell, being the stoners of the animal kingdom, but they get by.

Maguro said...

Would there be people literally too stupid to live?

Well, there were those people of course. But mostly, the smart Jews made more money earlier and consequently were able to marry younger and perhaps also able to remarry more easily if the first wife died in childbirth or whatever.

The key point is that the Jews weren't permitted to own land or farm back then, they had to make a living doing "mental" work - moneylending, etc. It therefore seems reasonable to assume that intelligence correlated more closely with wealth and status - and marriagability - among European Jews than it did among Christians, whose wealth and status were primarily determined by things like titles, amount of land owned, position in the family, etc.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@fls:

Let me apologize for being such a jerk to you--it took me a while to figure out that you really didn't know the answers to the questions you asked.

Almost all I know of evolution biology I know from popularizations, except for biophysics stuff (turns out there is a very strong PHYSICAL reason to have life made of bezillions of tiny cells rather than one huge one). You could hardly do better than Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins--bearing in mind his biases (professional, not political, I think you'd find his politics congenial). His sinister plan to breed a species with spontaneously lactating males illustrates this discussion.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Maguro;

The key point is that the Jews weren't permitted to own land or farm back then

Much more importantly, for your thesis to work out, Jews were forcefully discouraged from marrying non-Jews, both by their own society and by outsiders. Otherwise their genes would have been mixed in the general population.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_studies_on_Jews

traditionalguy said...

Gabriel...You are a hoot tonight. The whole point of the Outer space visitation teaching is that it fits well the Cambrian Explosion purely as an hypothesis without actual evidence that it happened...just like the hypothesis of Charles Darwin helped to explain creatures popping up, without actual evidence that it happened, until better archeology changed the slight evidence that was available in favor of intervention from outer space. God does have His moments when he heals human bodies and replaces human body parts in miracles. He is a great repair person since he designed and made the originals start working. You will have to take my word for that. As I once told Ritmo, a commenter here that you will enjoy, your reasoning skills are great evidence for Divine creation by an intelligent Person.

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gabriel Hanna said...

@traditionalguy, if you're still reading, instead of hoping to get in a late hit:

The "Cambrian Explosion" doesn't help you. It isn't mysterious. It WAS mysterious, to Darwin. Creationists pretend it is mysterious, but they lie.

Your argument is a hundred years out of date. Too many fossils have been found that are ancestral to the Cambrian fossils. Too many similar "explosions" have been found in other time periods.

There's no special pleading necessary to explain the "Cambrian Explosion". It was business as usual for the evolution of Earth life.

So there's no need to invoke space aliens--which of course could only push back the question of life's origin, and not answer it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cambrian_explosion

The presence of Precambrian animals somewhat dampens the "bang" of the explosion: not only was the appearance of animals gradual, but their evolutionary radiation ("diversification") may also not have been as rapid as once thought. Indeed, statistical analysis shows that the Cambrian explosion was no faster than any of the other radiations in animals' history. However, it does seem that some innovations linked to the explosion — such as resistant armour — only evolved once in the animal lineage; this makes a lengthy Precambrian animal lineage harder to defend. Further, the conventional view that all the phyla arose in the Cambrian is flawed; whilst the phyla may have diversified in this time period, representatives of the crown-groups of many phyla do not appear until much later in the Phanerozoic. Further, the mineralized phyla that form the basis of the fossil record may not be representative of other phyla, since most mineralized phyla originated in a benthic setting. The fossil record is consistent with a Cambrian Explosion that was limited to the benthos, with pelagic phyla evolving much later.

There is little doubt that disparity – that is, the range of different organism "designs" or "ways of life" – rose sharply in the early Cambrian. However, recent research has overthrown the once-popular idea that disparity was exceptionally high throughout the Cambrian, before subsequently decreasing. In fact, disparity remains relatively low throughout the Cambrian, with modern levels of disparity only attained after the early Ordovician radiation.

The diversity of many Cambrian assemblages is similar to today's.[

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