Folding, spindeling, and mutilating lauguage for fun since Aug, 2004
Tuesday, 17 March 2009

I am re-reading the Voyage of the Beagle, and was amused to see this quote where Darwin mocks Lamarck:


Considering the strictly subterranean habits of the tucutuco, the blindness, though so common, cannot be a very serious evil; yet it appears strange that any animal should possess an organ frequently subject to be injured. Lamarck would have been delighted with this fact, had he known it, when speculating [7] (probably with more truth than usual with him) on the gradually _acquired_ blindness of the Asphalax, a Gnawer living under ground, and of the Proteus, a reptile living in dark caverns filled with water; in both of which animals the eye is in an almost rudimentary state, and is covered by a tendinous membrane and skin. In the common mole the eye is extraordinarily small but perfect, though many anatomists doubt whether it is connected with the true optic nerve; its vision must certainly be imperfect, though probably useful to the animal when it leaves its burrow. In the tucutuco, which I believe never comes to the surface of the ground, the eye is rather larger, but often rendered blind and useless, though without apparently causing any inconvenience to the animal; no doubt Lamarck would have said that the tucutuco is now passing into the state of the Asphalax and Proteus. --Voyage of the Beagle, Chapter 3 Maldonado (emphasis mine)


This catty little side-swipe at Lamarck just tickled me.  It is so uncharacteristic of the gentlemanly and mild Darwin.  That it is aimed at Lamarck is both telling and fitting.


Darwin occasionally agreed with Lamarck on scientific minutia, especially on clinical observations.  However, he vociferously disagreed with Lamarck on philosophical grounds and interpretations of observable facts.


Stalin rejected Darwin and embraced Lamarck (resurrected by Lysenko, and called "Lysenkoism") because Lamarck’s theory that physical traits developed by an individual can be inherited fit his political and social engineering purposes better. (in other words, if you work out and build huge muscles, your children will be born with huge muscles...even if you were naturally inclined to be a 98 lb weakling.)


Also, he had the same mis-reading of Darwin as the fundies do.  Instead of understanding that “fitness” is referring to very limited incidences of particular adaptations to a specific niche in the environment, they insist on mixing in the idea of a God-created hierarchy of general worthiness to exist.  Stalin mistakenly believed that Darwin's theory promoted the idea that those at the top of society deserved to be there because they were superior.  Naturally, that would not support the purposes of Stalin's regime, so he went with Lamarckism, or Lysenkoism, which would allow for a sort of state-sponsored acquired worthiness.


Naturally, in the Movie "Expelled", Ben Stein blames Darwin for the creation of Stalin.  I suppose that is why Stalin promoted the works of Darwin's rival, and suppressed Darwin's works...because he liked Darwin so much that he had to make sure nobody heard about him.  Whatever.  Soviet leadership embraced Lysenko as a peasant with "practical" and "common sense" ideas, and derided standard science as "elitist" and "bourgeois"...and claimed that the science elite were threatened by new ideas.




Is Ben Stein stupid or a liar?  At some point it ceases to matter.  After all, I suppose it is enough to simply say he made a movie that is worthless as anything except anti-intellectual propaganda.  I mean, he went to all of this trouble to create an entire documentary about the subject, and managed to make a whole movie that never once brushes up against the truth. How do you do that?  It fascinates me that all of the examples that the Intelligent Design promoters claim are the evil results of "Darwinism" are actually people who rejected Darwin's works in favor of rivals whose work was wrong, but suited their ideological bias...


Ironically, that is the very behavior of the ID proponents.  They reject the legacy built on Darwin's works in favor of inferior, repeatedly disproven ideas that suit their ideology.  And they use the SAME disproven ideas and demonstrably disastrous arguments as the big evils that they are trying to blame on Darwin.  That anyone gives Intelligent Design more than a passing and dismissive glance floors me.


And it sickens me that they use traditional Deistic imagery in their arguments.  What an insulting mis-appropriation of inspiration.



Tuesday, 17 March 2009 07:00:07 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #
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