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SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE  September 2004

SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE September 2004

Subject:

Re: The Actual Politics of Sociobiologists & Science Warriors

From:

Wren Osborn <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 12 Sep 2004 18:25:31 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (160 lines)

That concept of gardens reflecting political preferences is
interesting.  Would a socialist tend to have a jungle?  Would this by
any chance have anything to do with control, dare I say anal
retentiveness (Republicans), with concern, respect for varied species,
not wanting to be bored (Democrat).
Wren Osborn
On Friday, September 10, 2004, at 11:34 PM, Michael H Goldhaber wrote:

> Dear Sam,
> I think this may prove to be a very worthwhile endeavor, but there is
> certainly a danger of substituting one oversimplification for another.
> Just as "conservative" can mean evolution-denying, anti-abortion,
> pro-military, but can also mean libertarian, supporter of EP, etc.,
> "liberal" denotes a wide variety of positions. Obviously no supporter
> of EP is likely to be a religious conservative, so in contradistinction
> to that view all can claim the status of liberal if they find it
> helpful. It would thus seem that what we would need is a larger matrix
> of positions, to more  fully specify the kinds of differences that
> matter. (We would of course find that then even those on this list are
> far from full agreement, but it would be a start.) We would need to
> know stances on issues such as government support of social services,
> limitations of the market, nationalism, immigration, feminism, etc. One
> way to proceed might be simply to prepare a questionnaire, sending it
> to those on your list, some control group, our own list, etc., and just
> see what emerges.
> On the other hand, we might look at something more evanescent, but
> still very revealing  style. I once did a small pilot study of to see
> whether I could guess people's political affiliation on the basis of
> their front-yard gardens. The sample was too small to be terribly
> convincing, but to a rough approximation my hypothesis worked:
> Republicans prefer order and boring amounts of the same greens (or even
> paving) while Democrats prefer more varied, wild and  colorful
> plantings, and this held for quite different degrees of apparent
> wealth.
> Best,
> Michael
> On Sep 10, 2004, at 6:20 PM, Samuel Waite wrote:
>
>> Val Dusek has written about the tendency in the press to portray the
>> sociobiology controversy (and now, the science wars) as a conflict
>> between Objective Scientists and Leftists Who Won't Accept Reality.
>> I've only recently (in the last year or so) begun investigating --
>> indeed, even really been aware -- of these topics, and I too find this
>> narrative frighteningly commonplace.  In fact, the only thing I've
>> found that even comes close to an alternative view (at least for
>> sociobiology and evolutionary psychology) is Dusek's "Sociobiology
>> Sanitized".
>>
>> There have been some ostensible attempts at balanced expositions, but
>> virtually all are either pretty blatantly biased (Defenders of the
>> Truth) or obviously (to me, anyway) poorly researched (Man, Beast and
>> Zombie).
>>
>> This narrative must be challenged.  This is a book that needs to be
>> written (Dr. Dusek?  ;-)).  In any case, in the spirit of constructing
>> an alternative narrative, I'd like to discuss the politics of
>> sociobiologists, evolutionary psychologists, and science warriors.
>>
>> I think it's important to point out, first of all, that one can
>> be ideologically biased without necessarily being politically biased.
>> In addition to conscious political bias, there are matters of race,
>> gender, class, careerism, and scientism.  As is well known, many
>> left-wingers supported eugenics.
>>
>> Still, if the critics of EP and of big science are to be successful,
>> they must show that the sociobiologists and their current descendants
>> were and are as ideological as their opponents.  So actual political
>> bias should certainly be one of our first considerations.
>>
>> So, let's consider the political and broader ideological biases of the
>> following individuals (please add any comments you might have to my
>> own):
>>
>> Desmond Morris - ?
>>
>> Lionel Tiger - recently admirably penned an editorial against "race"
>> as a scientific concept.
>>
>> E.O. Wilson - commonly portrayed as a liberal in the press, but I'm
>> very much in doubt.  I'm almost inclined to think that he encourages
>> the idea in order to make sociobiology more credible.  In Sociobiology
>> and On Human Nature, of course, he suggested that homo economicus is
>> inscribed in the genome, as well as racism, women's oppression, and
>> women's inferiority, and suggested that it might be a good idea to let
>> poor people starve to death (albeit not quite in those terms).
>> Referred to black students who dumped ice water on him as "aborigines"
>> by whom he felt like he'd been "speared".  Has privately praised J.P.
>> Rushton.  Has been wined and dined by major corporations and recently
>> allied with Thernstrom in attacking women's and ethnic studies at
>> Harvard.  In Conscilience he descbribes himself as a social
>> conservative.
>>
>> Richard Dawkins - again, commonly portrayed as liberal, but I'm in
>> doubt, given his remarks about welfare recipients in The Selfish
>> Gene.  Most of his writings on social issues deal with
>> religion.  Terribly scientistic, IMHO.
>>
>> Napoleon Chagnon - described in National Review article as a "moderate
>> Democrat", but referred to by Terence Turner as a "right-wing
>> character".  Macho persona.
>>
>> David Barash - ?
>>
>> Michael Ghiselin - some anti-feminist comments in his works.
>>
>> John Tooby - ?
>>
>> Leda Cosmides - ?
>>
>> Helena Cronin - claims to be left-wing.
>>
>> Matt Ridley - certified right-wing lunatic.
>>
>> David Buss - has allied himself with racists.
>>
>> Peter Singer - adherent of all manner of bizarre ideas.
>>
>> Martin Daly - ?
>>
>> Margo Wilson - ?
>>
>> Robert Trivers - supposedly a Leftist.  Coauthored a book with Huey
>> Newton.
>>
>> Steven Pinker - books bask in "political incorrectness".  He thanks
>> Thomas Sowell and several AEI Fellows in the Acknowledgements in The
>> Blank Slate, and has given a lecture sponsored by the AEI.
>>
>> Scientific racists (from Jensen to Sarich and Rushton) - most of these
>> are pretty obvious, but what motivates people like Ernst Mayr, James
>> Crow, and George Williams (or maybe it was William Hamilton...) to
>> side with them (at least insofar as they defend the validity of the
>> race concept)?
>>
>> Behavior geneticists - some have obvious biases, but what about people
>> like Plomin and Scarr?
>>
>> Paul Gross - reactionary.
>>
>> Norm Levitt - again, claims to be left, but I'm not buying it.
>> Praises sociobiology and Living Marxism.
>>
>> Alan Sokal - a well-meaning liberal who's served as a convenient dupe
>> for the culture warriors.
>>
>> The rest of the science warriors seem to be known political
>> conservatives and/or largely apolitical scientists who they've whipped
>> into a frenzy.
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> Do you Yahoo!?
>> Shop for Back-to-School deals on Yahoo! Shopping.
>

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