Sunday, March 04, 2012

Eli Despairs

From the obituary in the NY Times of James Q Wilson, emphasis added

But even his critics acknowledged that he was less an ideologue than a scientist; he supported the war in Iraq and wrote that marriage should be defined by the union of one man and one woman, but he dismissed criticism of Darwin and suspicion of the theory of evolution.
we are doomed.

13 comments:

John said...

Eli,
I just don't understand your comment. The NYT is saying:
JQWilson was a scientist. Be because he was a scientist, he dismissed criticism of Darwin, and he dismissed suspicion of evolution.
So what is wrong with that?

Are you reading that to imply:

Wilson should have entertained suspicions of Darwin and of evolution, but because he was a dogmatic closed-minded scientist, he didn't entertain these suspicions.

I don't read it that way.

Of course, JQWilson was vulnerable to attack on many grounds: his "broken windows" theory justified a lot of police harassment of panhandlers, and any connection between fixing broken windows and reducing the rate of homicide and rape is remote (in my opinion). The crime rate dropped both in cities whose leadership followed Wilson's policy advice (NYC) and in cities where they didn't.

And of course the NYT singles out for praise Wilson's support for the Iraq war. The NYT did bring us Judith Miller's fake reporting in support of the war.

EliRabett said...

Whatfor, Eli humbly asks, does disbelieving in evolution have to do with being a conservative? or same for any scientific theory? The way this is written believing in evolution makes John Q a real middle of the roader. Not.

crf said...

This isn't suprising. I know nothing about him at all. But, from his work and education, he would undoubtedly have encountered theories and arguments linking race and socio-economic issues, which, whether they are good or bad arguments, often tried to encorporate an underpinning in standard genetics.

I guess what you are lamenting is that the NYT feels a need to clarify to its readers that, despite being right-wing, this man did believe in standard biological science. The statement reveals more about how press-people view the world.

Bryson said...

I get the point, but just to make it as explicit as I can: 'conservatism', as an ideology, is now assumed to include rejection of a lot of science (including things as basic and settled as evolution)--so a 'conservative' who defends evolution is 'more scientist than idealogue'. This sets an appallingly low standard for being 'more scientist than idealogue', since it allows true scientists' ideaology to trump science anytime the scientific evidence is less conclusive than the evidence for evolution.

Bryson Brown

John said...

Eli:

Now I understand your problem!

You ask, "what does disbelieving in evolution have to do with conservatism? or same for any scientific theory?"

Your problem is that you are reasoning logically.
Logically, disbelieving in evolution has nothing to
do with conservatism.

But in fact: people who disbelieve in evolution tend to be Protestant fundamentalists, for whom Darwin and evolution are anathema because it threatens a literal reading of the Bible. People holding that worldview tend to be conservative. It's not a perfect correlation, but there is a correlation. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson are political conservatives.
So, even if there is no logical connection, there is a sociological connection.

Here's another example: in the Republican primaries, it's hard for a candidate to survive unless the candidate repudiates modern anthropogenic global warming (MAGW), because Republican primary voters are ideologically opposed to MAGW. Ken Cuccinelli was close to the Tea Party.
Once again, there may not be a logical connection, but there is a sociological connection.

So that's your problem, Eli. You' re reasoning logically, and acting as if others did so also.

David B. Benson said...

I object the ruination of a good term, conservative, by applying it to creationists, climate change denialists and others of the flat earter ilk.

For example, Winston Churchill and Dwight D. Eisenhower were conservatives.

Use some other term for the anti-enlightment kooks.

David B. Benson said...

Eli needs a copy of
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbit_Model_Checker

:-)

J Bowers said...

Brian -- "Here's another example: in the Republican primaries, it's hard for a candidate to survive unless the candidate repudiates modern anthropogenic global warming (MAGW), because Republican primary voters are ideologically opposed to MAGW."

Actually, Brian, a lot of that could be to do with the dopes signing a (possibly unconstitutional) Faustian pledge with Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform/Leave Us Alone Coalition. If any legislation is proposed that could raise taxes they are required to fight it or face the wrath of probably the most powerful lobbyist in DC.

* Grover Norquist Spreads Lies About Renewable Energy Standards
* Grover Norquist: “Heartland Institute puts out original research and serious work”

Marion Delgado said...

They're right, Eli - if you make some economic and social concessions to the Right, they'll reciprocate by not fighting the programs dearest to your heart like evolution and gravity.

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

if you make some economic and social concessions to the Right, they'll reciprocate by not fighting the programs dearest to your heart like evolution and gravity."

Paleocons perhaps, but the Neocons deal only in Metaphysical Certainties of a certain age--

Title

Russell said...

Hit 'Title' above to see what I mean-
http://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2012/03/in-media-res.html

owlbrudder said...

MAGW? MAGW! Oh, not another acronym [groan]. Just when my wabbits ears were getting used to the taunting echoes of "CAGW", along comes John with an 'improvement'. [Sniff] Where's my cawwot?