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Thoughts Online Magazine
Collected Articles on Culture & Politics
Darwin, Eugenics, the Holocaust 
27th-May-2008 12:03 pm
Ben Stein's "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" is a successful documentary describing the fear of debate among those who support the random-mutation "Darwinist" model of evolution over the "restricted mutation" models proposed under the rubric of "Intelligent Design". Successful in that it presents a problem (no debate allowed on fundamental principles), proposes a solution (open debate), and does so entertainingly. Few documentaries reach this audience, or have such a successful box office.

One point, however: while the Nazis, and the eugenics crowd were indeed inspired by Darwin and met with no check under their understanding of "survival of the fittest", there is, in fact, a biological basis for preserving genetic diversity. Any study of "survival of the fittest" assumes something: it assumes the current climate and resources available to the population. Should those change, it is important to be able to adapt to the new conditions: and the more your genotype ties you to the prior conditions, the more difficult that adaptation will be.

Earth is changeable. We shouldn't assume otherwise. Therefore, Eugenics has a check coming from a little common sense and a little biology.
28th-May-2008 03:03 pm (UTC)
Ben Stein is ever so slightly hampered by knowing nothing whatsofreakingever about science and how it works. One example that took my breath away: someone discovers that two human species, which had been thought to be successive to each other, may in fact have overlapped in time. Stein claims that this means that "evolution has something to answer". Is he out of his mind? Does he seriously, as he seems to imply, think that evolution plays like chess, with a limited number of slots, and that when one of them is filled by one player, there is no place for another? Does he realize that species of vastly different ages cohabit the world today? That is the sort of reason why Expelled has been treated with contempt by the scientific community, and has thrown into despair those of us who hope for a more intelligent attitude than that of Richard Dawkins. But among conservatives, because it flattered their position, it has been taken up uncritically. The result is that the negative view of Christians among the scientific community is reinforced.
28th-May-2008 05:55 pm (UTC)
"Some things Stein says are wrong. Therefore he has no right to speak on the subject."

The "scientific community" that has such a standard should be treated as the teenagers they act like. Adults can handle conversation.
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