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>Date: Fri, 8 Mar 2002 09:07:35 -0500
>From: "Wade T.Smith" <email@example.com>
>Subject: Fwd: Shotgun wedding for evolution and culture
>Shotgun wedding for evolution and culture
>by Bea Perks, BioMedNet News
>"When I hear the word culture, I reach for my revolver," said Steve
>Jones, professor of genetics at University College London, at last
>night's launch of a program designed to bridge the gap between science
>and culture. "It is a totally futile pastime to try to explain uniquely
>human attributes, like culture, using Darwinism."
>That futile pastime, however, "goes back to Darwin himself," sighed
>Jones, introducing his talk, "The Culture of Darwinism: is man just
perhaps this reply is rather late, bu the life of an undergrad never rests.
Who is this jerk? I find it interesting to note that while attacking the
sociobiological inquiries, he has not addressed memetics. He does mention
Social Darwinism and Spencer, but SD is a version of memetics gone wrong. I
think we must accept the possibility that social evolution drifts as much as
genetic evolution does. A blind, mechanical, directionless process that
creates complexity from simpler elements. Makes it hard to sleep at night but
at least I am not a capitalist/Socialist/Nazi eugenics freak. Perhaps morality
is found in some organization of society that has yet to be conceived of, or
at least has yet to attain memetical proliferation.
so somebody should tell this geneticist jerk, that while his criticism of
Sociobiology is commendable, he is about twenty years too late. There has been
enough criticism in that arena and very little progress has been made in that
avenue of exploration (although some behaviors have a biological basis, I will
admit to very few). Someone needs to tell Steve Jones to put away his revolver
and to pick up a copy of "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" by Daniel Dennett. I think
a Science of memetics is definitely needed to cure the backlash against
Sociobiology. It is perhaps a shame that Jane Goodall had not thought to write
that book, because the consequences of letting an "ant man" do the work has
been at the very least a bit of a setback.
>Both Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, the naturalist who prompted Darwin
>to publish his theory of natural selection, used evolution to argue for
>their very different political viewpoints. Darwin himself used the theory
>to support his interest in eugenics, said Jones. Wallace, on the other
>hand, wrote a book arguing that Darwinism provided a rationale for
>A close friend of Darwin, the British philosopher Herbert Spencer who is
>credited with coining the term "survival of the fittest," used Darwinism
>as "a rationale for 19th century capitalism," said Jones.
>"The problem of course is that you can fit this logic into any framework
>you like," said Jones. "There seems to be a remarkable willingness to
>accept Darwinian explanations for uniquely human attributes," he noted.
>But evolution is no good at explaining things that are unique, he said,
>because it is a comparative science.
>"If you look into the various sociobiological explanations which are out
>there for human behavior ...every single one of them is perfectly
>convincing but every one of them is untestable because there's no
>standard of comparison," said Jones.
>Sociobiology is an art not a science, he concluded. "When it comes to
>culture and science, science can tell you everything you want to know
>about yourself ... except, that is, for the interesting stuff."
>The program to bridge the cultural divide, Close Encounters? Culture
>Meets Science, is the brainchild of Steve Connor, professor of modern
>literature at Birkbeck College in London.
>Referring to the current fascination for popular science, he told
>BioMedNet News, "something is happening in the culture as a whole that
>isn't happening in universities, which is where science gets done, which
>is where high level sustained reflection about culture gets done."
>There is, says Connor, "understandable, but I think very productive,
>worry and antagonism about science and whatever the 'opposite' of science
>With that in mind, he has organized the series of public lectures at
>Birkbeck to "bring together the many people who are actually addressing
>people on 'the other side' or sometimes have found themselves on 'the
>Connor hopes that issues raised during the lecture series will become a
>focus for further discussion in the future. He praised Jones for
>providing "a highly scientific warning against the dangers of the
>mythology of science."
I suppose I should praise him too, but I have a wicked tongue(keystroke)
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