RE: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence

From: Steve Drew (
Date: Sun Mar 10 2002 - 23:13:24 GMT

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    Subject: RE: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence
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    Hi Scott

    > Date: Sun, 10 Mar 2002 16:51:06 -0500
    > From: "Scott Chase" <>
    > Subject: RE: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence
    >> From: Ned Wolpert <>
    >> Reply-To:
    >> To:
    >> Subject: RE: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence
    >> Date: 10 Mar 2002 08:21:47 -0700
    >> On Sat, 2002-03-09 at 16:46, Scott Chase wrote:
    >>> I don't think Lerner was equating sociobiologists and Nazis but was
    >> offering
    >>> some biologically deterministic parallelism nonetheless. He really lays
    >> into
    >>> the topic of Nobel prize winning ethologist Konrad Lorenz's checkered
    >> Nazi
    >>> past and his analogy comparing certain humans to a cancerous growth.
    >>> I'm probably a tad more sympathetic to sociobiology/ep than those on the
    >>> intellectual Left and may come down a *little* less critically than
    >> Gould
    >>> and his buddies, but I still look at sociobiological (and memetic)
    >> notions
    >>> quite cautiously.
    >> I too have the same problem. On one hand, I accept that evolution
    >> exists, and accept the base principles of genetics. I can also agree
    >> that the 'meme' does exist and that thoughts/ideas are viral and merely
    >> desire replication. I have a problem when us humans (the vehicle of
    >> both genes and memes) decide we can manipulate either. As we look at
    >> eugenics (active or passive) the ease for a 'culture' to develop
    >> destructive traits, like the Nazis, seems too easy. And what about
    >> eugenics of the mind? (meugenics?) Does one try to kill religious
    >> thought like the Marxists of USSR?
    >> I think the problem is that people believe that evolution is geared to
    >> go toward a 'perfection', or if it doesn't then they try to push it
    >> toward a 'perfection'. This seems to be the core problem whenever the
    >> study of genetics and culture are mixed. (Without trying to rile people
    >> up via flame-bait, a comment made to me from someone was basically
    >> "social darwinism is reductionist and/or tautological at its best,
    >> racist at its worst." Where does sociobiology fit in that?.)
    > I think Lerner made the point that sociobiology tends to have biologically
    > (or genetically) deterministic underpinnings. As such, though, sociobiology
    > is not necessarily racist, though it is open to co-option by those who would
    > harbor a racist agenda. Something I've pondered, but haven't followed
    > through on, would be a possible odd marriage between extreme right-wing
    > ideology and hard-boiled sociobiology. Though those on the right might have
    > a tendency to religious fundamentalism which precludes an acceptance of
    > evolution as fact, the social implications of sociobiology (at least some of
    > the more extreme strains having contentious stuff to say about race and
    > gender) might appeal somewhat to the far right.

    Yes, i would agree here. It is easy for racists to co-opt sociobiology to
    persue there aims. They unfortunately ignore the fact that the difference's
    in race are outweighed by the 99.999% etc similarity's between people.
    Charles Murray has used sociobiology to prove that people are poor because
    of genetics!
    > With sociobiology there is the is/ought distinction (and related
    > naturalistic fallacy) to contend with where one might see something that is
    > a naturally based fact (say *if* there is a tendency toward rape,
    > infanticide, or aggression etc... in certain ecologically circumscribed
    > circumstances), but this "is" does not translate to an ethical ought (or
    > because it is the natural state it is not automatically "good" in the sense
    > of the summum bonum), so sociobiologists, if they're careful about their
    > theories, need not be seen as advocating the implications of their theories
    > or justifying them in the social, legal, or political sphere as letting the
    > status quo stand or whatever. They could very well rally for a totally
    > different set of oughts than the is's they postulate arising from the
    > evolution of behavior.
    > Nonetheless, sociobiology and is cousin EP are still open to charges by
    > critics of Panglossian adaptationism and "just so stories". Thus, the "is"
    > itself is open to question, regardless of whether the theorist translates
    > this is into an ought.

    >> The only thing I end up with is that educating people on the concept of
    >> these two replicators is very important. That way we can avoid the
    >> pitfalls of having two replicators driving our actions though 'instinct'
    >> and our concept of 'intelligence'. Course, then I'm back to square one;
    >> what education is this? I don't think it currently exists in any form.
    >> --
    >> Virtually,
    >> Ned Wolpert <> 4e75
    >> 1024D/5DEA314E: 7FFB 99C3 BF90 6135 12F4 07B8 0B23 2E5C 5DEA 314E
    >> << signature.asc >>



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