Greetings Samuel Waite.
I have a few brief comments.
>I'm working on an article intended to introduce young
>progressive activists to the history of (to varying
>degrees) biological determinist ideologies (especially
>in the U.S.), including sociobiology, evolutionary
Although it doesn't have such a well-established name, you could
add here gene-tampering - attempts at gene therapy, and much more widely
the whole genetic 'engineering' fad
>and racist and sexist science.
I congratulate you warmly on these much more dangerous aims. From
past experience I can warn you not to bring these fads up in any candid
fashion on this list.
>E. O. Wilson: Because genes make the brain
scanty evidence for this
>, and the
>brain is the mind
many fail to realise how scanty also is the evidence for this slogan
>, then our basic desires, emotions,
>etc., and by extension, our society, are shaped by
>evolutionary forces. Thus, women are predisposed to
>be cognitively and behaviorally different from ne in
>a manner different from men
[if I understand despite minor garbling] This fact needs no novel
Sociobiology or anything else. It has been a settled fact at least since A
Moir, D Jessel Brain Sex London: Michael Joseph (1989).
>Gould, Lewontin, etc.: Your pronouncements are overly
>informed by the dominant ideology. In this way,
>they're dangerous in the same way that racist
>pseudoscience is dangerous. Further, they'd
>scientificially dubious: what about spandrels and
>neutral traits? Further, you seem ignorant of
>history, ethnography, and archaeology. And besides,
>you misunderstand the relationship between genotype
>Wilson, Dawkins, Barash, etc.: You're Communists!
I hadn't known Dawkins was along those lines; indeed, as an extreme
proponent of genetic determinism - maintaining that the whole of
evolution was entailed in primal DNA - he wouldn't be expected to get
abusive in this way.
If Dawkins has opposed sociobiol, I'd guess his motive is nothing
more rational than a desire to avoid being subsumed within a pre-existing
theory. He wants to pretend that his memes, selfish DNA etc are as least
as grand a theory as E. O's.
would you mind telling us what you are? That may help those who
wish to offer you comments.
>1. Problems of interpretation and methodology.
>Scientific observations, hypotheses, experiments, and
>conclusions are frequently products are colored by
>personal bias and the dominant ideology. One
>objection made to this point is that opponents of
>sociobiology also have their (left-wing) biases.
The prominent critics you mention are, no doubt, left-wing. I have
always supposed they fear thaqt sociobiology could be misused politically
to support refusals of social reforms.
But scoiobiology is objectionable, also, to anyone who emphasizes
the importance of free-will. Some of those (e.g myself) are not Communists
but Christians (of various kinds).
BTW how has sociobiol gone over with Muslims? The reputed fatalism
of Islam might find sociobiol somewhat appealling ... ?
>I'd also like to ask: if the sociobiologists are
>wrong, what do you think motivates them to continue
>making such grandiose claims about human nature?
>Money? Politics? Sincere belief?
I guess sobiol is, in part, a manifestation of atheism.
>Finally, some questions about race. That "race" as it
>is traditionally defined is not really a useful
>category is, I think, beyond dispute. That said,
>there are certainly difference between populations.