Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Guilt by association

There are many common fallacies that can easily make your argument invalid. The Intelligent Design Creationists seem to posses an uncanny ability to use each and every one of them. Here's a good example of guilt by association, heavily laced with ad hominem.

It's a documentery called The Biology of the Second Reich) by John West and colleagues. John West is one of the bigwigs at the Discovery Institute. The IDiots see this sort of propaganda as support for Intelligent Design Creationism and evidence against evolution.


The IDiots are excited about the fact that this documentary just won a prize in the "Best Documentary Short" category of the Los Angeles Cinema Festival of Hollywood! [Congratulates to John West as Biology of the Second Reich, "Best Documentary Short," Scores Big Recognition!]. I'm pretty sure the prize is based on the quality of the production and not on the accuracy of the information in the documentary. This is typical of most awards for documentaries and nonfiction books.


63 comments :

  1. The fact is that many German evolutionary biologists interpreted natural selection as proving that Germans were superior to other nationalities. This was one of notions that turned then Secretary of State William Jennings Bryant against evolution as, when he visited Germany in the months leading up to WW1, that's what he was told by officials in the government. They cited Darwin and his German counterparts as proof of German superiority.

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    1. Nope. The German "arians" assumed and presumed that they were superior to other peoples. Assumed. Had they tried to justify their assumption by pointing to natural selection, they would have still assumed that natural selection had made them superior. Natural selection cannot be used to prove superiority, its a process. Worse case scenario, that we are all here would suggest, not prove, that we're superior to whatever is not here. That if we ignore a good deal of random variation and survival that has little to do with selection, and with fitness.

      Your history is lacking. Those particular Germans assumed that they were superior, and then justified their actions from a standpoint of breeding, not from a standpoint of evolutionary biology. Breeding, as in crops, cattle, etc, predate evolutionary theory by a huge lot of time.

      So it looks like quite a lie that Germans used evolutionary theory to justify their actions and assumptions. But, even if they did, they would have required a good deal of misunderstanding to get from natural selection to "therefore we're superior." Even then, such "justification" would have nothing to do with whether the theory of evolution is true or false.

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    2. Colnago: "This was one of notions that turned then Secretary of State William Jennings Bryant against evolution as, when he visited Germany in the months leading up to WW1, that's what he was told by officials in the government."

      Reference, please! I call bull on that story. First of all, few Germans went on about Darwin because, amongst other things, teaching Darwinism in German public schools had been de facto banned in the Kaiserreich-- on the grounds that evolutionary theory was staatsgefarhrlich and it led to disloyalty, atheism and socialism. e.g. von Treitschke blamed Darwinism for an assassination attempt on the Kaiser. [Alfred E. Kelly, The Descent of Darwin, p. 60] As a general rule, German racists did not believe in macroevolution by natural selection.

      And second, William J. Bryan was himself a total racist, like most creationists. He was a white supremacist who moved to the American South and defended Jim Crow. [“William Jennings Bryan and Racism”, Willard H. Smith. J. Negro History, 54, No. 2 (1969), pp. 127-149.] If the Germans went all racist on him, Bryan would praise them!

      And third, Darwin was English. Why would a German nationalist go on about how an Englishman had made the ultimate philosophy of ethics, meaning etc.? German nationalists went on about Kant and Goethe and Frederick the $%^! Great. If a German nationalist believed in evolution, he would attribute it to a German.

      And fourth, the creationist would reproduce such a quote if they had it, and I've never seen creationists cite it. IDiot Richard Weikart wrote two books on the subject and could only find one or arguably two examples of an obscure German racist who believed in macroevolution by natural selection. The rest of his "evidence" were hoaxes he concocted by dishonest paraphrases (or quote mines) of what historical actors said or believed. (Unfortunately Tom Mueller believed Weikart's swindle, but that's another story.)

      So I call bull on William Jennings Bryan the anti-racist! Ha ha ha.

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  2. Actually – there is some merit to this thesis. During the 19 and 20 Centuries, Political Ideology often trumped Empirical Science and scientific debate became confounded by cultural identity, patriotism or political ideology.

    Modern Social Scientists still employ Ernst Mayer’s relatively recent “Hard vs. Soft” terminology unfamiliar to most modern Biologists. And the notion of Social Darwinism leading inexorably to Nazism is an old idea.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/From_Darwin_to_Hitler

    August Weismann (the so-called father of Neo-Darwinism) and his contemporaries instead had employed the terms “neo-Darwinism” and “neo-Lamarckism” to distinguish Mayer’s “Hard” and “Soft” heredity. Textbooks have been confused ever since!

    I have long been fascinated with this historical question. Richard Weikart in a personal communication wrote the following:

    Concerning Weismann's support for eugenics or racial hygiene, I discuss this some in my book _From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics,Eugenics, and Racism in Germany_. Weismann embraced several ideas that would influence the eugenics movement--most prominently "hard heredity," but also the notion that the species trumps the individual. Alfred Ploetz, the organizer of the German Society for Racial Hygiene, recruited Weismann as honorary president of his society, and Weismann accepted.

    That all said – Eugenics and Racial Hygeine was widely practiced including North America and Britain. As just one example, when Oregon performed the last legal forced sterilization in 1981; over 65,000 individuals had been sterilized in 33 states under state compulsory sterilization programs in the United States.

    I often have my students check this site: http://www.dnai.org/e/index.html

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    1. Genetics, misconceived and misbegotten, culminated in Scientific Racism and Social Darwinism climaxing in World War II and the Jewish Holocaust.

      The blood lust of “Social Lamarckism” was no less brutal and paced current events no less viciously! International Socialism was naïveté in extremis, a pipedream intended to create a brave new world devoid of borders and free of racism or oppression.

      To cite Karl Marx: “History always repeats itself; first as tragedy then again as farce!”

      Yet again; Genetics misconceived and misbegotten, culminated this time in Stalin’s (and later Mao’s) hijacking of a utopian dream, conjuring a nightmare more horrible than even Hitler’s. “Soft Inheritance”, as pseudo-science, wreaked havoc no less heinously than “Hard Inheritance”.

      Neo-Darwinism’s “Hard Inheritance” was unacceptably deterministic according to Stalinism. The new Soviet man could not be constrained by bonds of oppression – not even biological bonds. Just as the Nazis rejected “Jewish Science”, so too the Soviets dismissed, out of hand, “Bourgeois Science”. The result was Lysenkoism (named for Russian botanist Trofim Lysenko); a Stalinist doctrine maintaining heredity could be altered by husbandry and that all biological research conducted in the USSR must conform to Neo-Lamarckian “Soft Inheritance” principles

      Stalin’s domestic policy focused on rapid industrialization and collectivization of agriculture where countless victims were either deliberately starved to death or were slaughtered on the false altar of the “greater good”. China was no different: even as late as 1958-1961, the “Great Famine” coincided with Mao Tse-Tung’s “Great Leap Forward’. The radical changes of Chinese Lysenkoism condemned 36 million to starvation just over three years. Consider that number carefully; 36 million dead in merely three years! The worst Stalin managed in a three year period was about eight and a half million’ victims of famine and repression, in the period 1930–33. All told, Hitler wreaked havoc only for 11 years: so incredibly, when all is said and done, Stalin’s as well as Mao’s bloodthirsty death tolls both managed to eclipse Hitler’s!

      http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE4.HTM

      Parenthetically - this all explains why I am no big fan of Pete Seeger

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    2. The catastrophe of the 20th Century was presciently predicted by Nietzsche, a German philosopher already mentioned earlier. Nietzsche correctly foresaw that the rise of rationalism and scientific thought (including Darwinism) would lead to “nihilism” a readiness to repudiate all previous theories of morality or religious belief. Nietzsche did not delight in his aphorism “God was Dead”. When Nietzsche ruefully predicted (in Ecce Homo) that the twentieth century would be a century of "wars such as have never happened on earth", he offered a prophet’s alternative, the call to Humanity to rise to the level of Übermensch, to a will to create moral meaning in a modern world. Sadly, his message was coopted by the Nazis and Nietzsche has been generally misunderstood ever since.

      The radical Left vs. the reactionary Right: a Pox on both their houses!

      The final and greatest irony of all: there remains some merit to the contention that loyal adherence to millennia-old traditions of “faith” eventually proved the most successful bulwark in defending humanity from the evils of this double-headed modern hydra.

      Excuse me while I run and duck for cover!

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    3. Before Oberski starts jumping up and down on my cyber-spine:

      No I do not endorse the views of Richard Weikart in toto,

      That said, there remains a kernel of veracity in some of his premises and I sympathize with some (not all) of his interpretations, especially since I can read much of the orginal German sources in the original.

      And no... I am not endorsing faith as a fount of "truth" - I am merely making the historical observation that faith as an ideology (for lack of a better term) was important in opposing fascism as an ideology, that's all.

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    4. The final and greatest irony of all: there remains some merit to the contention that loyal adherence to millennia-old traditions of “faith” eventually proved the most successful bulwark in defending humanity from the evils of this double-headed modern hydra.

      Yes, Martin Luther's views were a wonderfully successful bulwark against anti-Semitism.

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    5. Oh, I see. The First World War was not caused by the virulent militaristic nationalism that pervaded Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

      Instead, it was Charles Darwin's fault. If Darwin had just bred pigeons and classified barnacles, and not written about evolution, there would have been no World War I (and of course no World War II and no Holocaust).

      Live and learn ...

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    6. Hey Tom,

      If you ever develop a backbone I'll gladly jump up and down on it.

      If you ever stop spouting nonsense I'll stop.

      Neither seem very likely.

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    7. Nietzsche correctly foresaw that the rise of rationalism and scientific thought (including Darwinism) would lead to “nihilism” a readiness to repudiate all previous theories of morality or religious belief.

      Ouch, nihilism!

      WALTER SOBCHAK: Nihilists! F*(# me. I mean, say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos.

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    8. Hi Joe

      Re:
      The First World War was not caused by the virulent militaristic nationalism that pervaded Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries…. Instead, it was Charles Darwin's fault

      Your reductiones ad absurdum are well taken and sucinctly summarize the critics of Richard Weikart. I provided a link above, that included those same criticisms along your lines: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/From_Darwin_to_Hitler

      Here is the quick sound-bite: Hitler espoused (he did not invent) Racial Antisemitism as opposed to Religious Anti-Semitism. Racial Anti-Semitism was "pseudo-scientific" and also known as “Social Darwinism”. None of this so far is debatable.

      So yes – I agree with you: Darwin did NOT cause reactionary extremism nor militaristic nationalism…

      … however, Darwin was CO-OPTED by reactionary extremists and militaristic nationalists including the Nazis. Again, none of this so far is debatable!

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    9. @ Joe again

      now for the long version:

      Nineteenth century scientific debate became confounded by cultural identity, patriotism or political ideology. Historical context goes far in explaining the perplexing peculiarities of scientific debate over a century ago. Neo-Darwinism was decidedly deterministic; fatalistic, in fact. Hard Inheritance apparently justified 19th century reactionary policies confirming Anglo-Saxon (or alternatively German) superiority and even justified 19th Century colonialism.

      The influential English Biometrician, Karl Pearson, took August Weismann's Germ Plasm theory to logical extremes. Tax revenue squandered on public education in misguided attempts to improve people “who come from poor stock” was simply wasted. The inequities of class structure were scientifically justifiable! New-fangled “social programs” were merely well-intentioned exercises in futility!

      Others, such as Friedrich Wurzbach, extended August Weismann's Germ Plasm Theory even further; by suggesting certain “racial” characteristics, temperaments and values are heritable. Preconceived notions justified the prejudice that Germans (Nordic Aryans) and Jews were biologically determined archetypes no differently than Wagner’s noble Teutonic heroes, forever in conflict with miserable crypto-Semitic dwarves. Art reflected scientific misconception. Wagner’s operas resonated as cultural leitmotifs to an emerging sense of German nationalism culminating in German reunification. Germany sold its cultural soul to a perverted misincarnation of Nietzsche’s “Übermensch“. August Heinrich Hoffmann’s "Deutschland, Deutschland über alles" was co-opted by this new Zeitgeist. Hoffmann’s initial romantic idealism was reduced to a jingoistic jingle.

      Such social and cultural ideals associated with Neo-Darwinism flew in the face of the contrary 19th Century Romantic revolutionary idealism extolling the Enlightenment’s “Brotherhood of Man”. (eg “Alle Menschen werden Brüder” –i.e. Germany’s anthem to the Enlightenment). Such ideals were summarized by the tripartite motto: “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité”.

      The American and French Revolutions presaged a series of bloody revolutionary aftershocks that reverberated though all Europe; including the Revolutions of 1830, 1848 and the Paris Commune of 1871.

      The “Conservative Order” of Metternich and Castlereagh responded with a reactionary hard-nosed realism diametrically opposed to the naïveté of revolutionary idealism. The “Conservative Order” invoked a “Hard Heredity”/neo-Darwinian justification for their cause. As a result, enlightened opposition to social injustice necessarily embraced Soft Heredity/neo-Lamarckian ideals.

      In this light, it is understandable how patriotic scientists from countries threatened by German expansionism would be inclined to discredit “hard heredity” and why the political left would grow to loathe Neo-Darwinism (Karl Marx’s initial enthusiasm notwithstanding).

      Political deliberations impeded scientific debate as conflicting "wide worldviews" or “Weltanschauungen” captured opposing allegiances. Ideological boundaries were clearly delineated as the Revolutionary Left locked in mortal combat with the Reactionary Right.

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    10. @ judmarc

      I call your Martin Luther and raise you one Martin Luther King Jr.

      ;-)

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    11. @ Piotr

      I never saw the movie The Big Lebowski.

      Is it any good?

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    12. The looniest ever. You haven't seen it yet? Lucky you.

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    13. http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/09/30-years-of-coens-closing-thoughts-and-rankings/380926/

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    14. Incidentally, in the article devoted to Lebowski the Goodman/Sobchak quotation is Orr's choice for "best line".

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    15. Tom, you write so many silly things about history I hardly know where to begin. And citing that hoaxer Richard Weikart as a source! Pathetic.

      Stalin’s domestic policy focused on rapid industrialization and collectivization of agriculture where countless victims were either deliberately starved to death or were slaughtered on the false altar of the “greater good”. China was no different: even as late as 1958-1961, the “Great Famine” coincided with Mao Tse-Tung’s “Great Leap Forward’. The radical changes of Chinese Lysenkoism condemned 36 million to starvation just over three years. Consider that number carefully; 36 million dead in merely three years!

      The above is absolutely false. When anti-communists list the millions "murdered" by communism, the numbers are always fake and computed, at best, by a double standard.

      Your statement the “Great Famine” [In China] coincided with Mao Tse-Tung’s “Great Leap Forward’ is false. The Great Leap Forward occurred shortly before the famine, and while it was a great waste of national resources, it did not "coincide" with the famine.

      Further, you have cited the Great Famine as your primo example of how communism "either deliberately starved to death or... slaughtered [countless millions] on the false altar of the “greater good”. However disastrous the famine was, communists were neither deliberately starving people to death, nor were they slaughtering people. This is false. The communist party is guilty of incompetent mismanagement or death by neglect in this case, but incompetent mismanagement and/or death by neglect are not "deliberate murder." Or rather, more precisely, it's only deliberate murder when communists do it, not when capitalists do it.

      Here's reality: During and after the Great Leap Forward, the Chinese people had an immense sense of hope for their future and an exaggerated sense of scientific and technological progress. Many people believed that science would vastly expand agricultural yields (which actually would happen later, slowly, over a period of decades.) But local leaders in many local Chinese communities exaggerated their crop yields when reporting to the central government, because they were competing against each other to each report the highest yield. So they lied. This lying was disastrous. The Chinese government concluded that didn't need to store up big reserves of food anymore, which was a traditional custom to prepare for famines, but that custom was ditched due to an exaggerated belief in scientific progress and due to lying about crop yields by local leaders.

      So when the famine hit, China didn't have the food reserves that would normally carry them through. The Chinese population was already enormous by then, so lots of people died.

      This was wholly avoidable, so government policy is to blame. But it's incompetency and dishonesty.

      The Chinese communists were not "deliberately murdering" anybody at that time. Only communists are accused of "deliberate murder" and "slaughter" when millions of people die under their incompetent government. When millions of people die by incompetent capitalist government or die by neglect through the capitalist system, no one calls it deliberate murder. They call it the laws of nature.

      The USA for decades had a huge infant mortality rate compared to other developed nations, due to economic inequality, and the poor not getting proper medical care. That's death by neglect, but nobody called it "murder" because capitalism did it. And capitalism is just the laws of nature.

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    16. When the US supported Third World dictators and their death squads off on anti-communist jihads deliberately murdering millions of people in Asia and Central America, the MMS never called it "deliberate murder", simply because capitalists did it in the name of anti-communism.

      Evangelical Christians in America connected Suharto with the US president Ford, congressmen, generals and arms dealers while he was killing millions of his people. Ford gave the green light to his invasion of East Timor, and 24 hours after Ford flew out of Jakarta, the genocide began. Babies killed in the name of anti-communism.

      The evangelicals who enabled Suharto's genocide are in an organization called the Family aka the Fellowship. Once a year they organize the Presidential Prayer Breakfast. The Family used the PPB to evade State Department rules (breaking US law) and arrange connections between the president and congressmen and Third World dictators. Nobody at the MMS ever says the Family is guilty of the "deliberate murder" of those millions of people.

      The journalist Jeff Sharlet wrote a book about the Family and their foreign entanglements (The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power) and tried to get somebody in the org to admit regret or remorse for all those dead Timorese and Indonesians. He couldn't; those people are incapable of shame or remorse. To the present day, every US president, every year, HAS to show up at the Prayer Breakfast or else he'll be called anti-Christian.

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    17. I think it is ridiculous for Tom to cite Richard Weikart as an authority on anything. Here's a DI Fellow who takes his paycheck from an actual fascist, the Dominionist Howard Ahmanson, and we're supposed to trust him as an authority on fascism?

      Weikart's books are a pack of lies. I read them; I looked up Weikart's references.

      First, "Social Darwinism" is a term redefined by historians after the historical actors were dead (they did not apply the term to themselves, and most of the "Social Darwinists" did not believed in Darwinism). "Social Darwinism" has not been demonstrated even to exist, because most historians don't even define it clearly, so a hypothesis like "A thing, Social Darwinism, existed and influenced policy" can't be rationally supported.

      That's why many historians today simply dismiss "Social Darwinism" as a figment that didn't exist: because, #1, it was always poorly defined or not defined at all, #2, each historian gives a different lists of the "bad guys" he doesn't like and designates "Social Darwinists", and #3, most of the big shots classically designated "Social Darwinists" did not believed in Darwinism.

      Most notably, Adolf Hitler, who was a creationist who rejected macroevolution.

      As for all the lies in Richard Weikart's books, I'll have to trash them later. Shame on Tom for being hornswoggled by that DI hoaxer Weikart!

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    18. @ Diogenes

      I think we may agree more than we disagree regarding Weikert's analysis

      Please reread what I wrote above:

      No I do not endorse the views of Richard Weikart in toto,

      That said, there remains a kernel of veracity in some of his premises and I sympathize with some (not all) of his interpretations, especially since I can read much of the orginal German sources in the original.


      When I read scientific papers - I often focus on the data and attempt to derieve an alternative conclusion - as I indicated above, I remain fascinated with some of Weikert's data, even though I disagree with many of his conclusions.

      The main reason I cited Weikert at the outset was to emphasize that the notion of Social Darwinism leading inexorably to Nazism is an old idea.

      I trust we both agree that Darwin did NOT cause reactionary extremism nor militaristic nationalism…

      … however, Darwin was CO-OPTED by reactionary extremists and militaristic nationalists including the Nazis.

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    19. @ Diogenes

      Only communists are accused of "deliberate murder" and "slaughter" when millions of people die under their incompetent government.

      I remain gobstopped - you just conjured up an image of Wolfgang Pauli, who in great exasperation once remaked: "Das ist nicht nur nicht richtig, es ist nicht einmal falsch!

      First of all, non-communist criminality is faulted no less than communist. The last time I checked, nobody accused Hitler of being a communist/socialist (except by mreagnor & some of the idiots in the Discovery Institute)

      and

      What about the victims of Katyn Woods, the Holomodor or the Cambodian killing fields and... and... and... the list is almost endless?! I can imagine hearing the howling souls of the victims screaming to the heavens over your ignorachio elenchi

      I highly recommend you check out this site that has no apparent political axe to grind:

      http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/20TH.HTM


      I also recommend you check out this book:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloodlands

      best regards

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    20. @ Diogenes

      I am still reeling at your specious suggestion:

      …so [communist] government policy is to blame. But it's incompetency and dishonesty. The Chinese communists were not "deliberately murdering" anybody at that time.

      Diogenes. Let’s be clear here.

      Your scathing sarcasm and acerbic wit are pure joy to behold. I am one of your biggest fans. I am also an aging Biology teacher nearing retirement and hopelessly non-current. On more than one occasion you have corrected me and I remain in your debt.

      Your expertise in all matters Biological eclipses mine – no argument. However, it would appear I may have a limited smattering of historical expertise that may exceed yours in certain specific and perhaps esoteric areas.

      I ask you to reconsider. Are you suggesting that the ongoing famine in North Korea is not deliberate? Please tell me you misspoke.

      Regarding Mao’s instigation of China’s Great Famine, I refer you to another great book:

      Beijing government officials, including Zhou Enlai and Mao, increased the food procurement quota from the countryside to pay for international imports. According to Dikötter, "In most cases the party knew very well that it was starving its own people to death." Mao was quoted as saying in Shanghai in 1959: “When there is not enough to eat people starve to death. It is better to let half of the people die so that the other half can eat their fill.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mao's_Great_Famine

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  3. Advances in metallurgy made the production of guns, knives and bayonets possible. Advances in chemistry made bullets, bombs and chemical weapons possible. Advances in electromagnetic properties made instant communication and "effective" and quick military intelligence possible. Advances in physics made nuclear weapons possible. Advances in the biological sciences have made germ warfare possible.

    Since these have cause far more death and suffering than the misuse of evolutionary theory has, maybe we should discard chemistry, physics and biology while we are at it.

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  4. The BS starts with the title. There was no such thing as the "second Reich". There was the Kaiserreich (1871-1918) and the term "second Reich" got applied to it by right wing novellist AM von den Bruck in 1923. It got used by historians during the third Reich as a means to legitimize Nazi rule and to delegitimize the Weimar Republic, as well as to reinterpret the ethnically pluralistic holy roman empire as a german nation state (and thus argue for a historical mandate to rule most of europe). When your historical documentaries title is based on propaganda terms from the 3rd Reich, you've already discredited anything you might say.
    The film itself is mostly based on generalizing from a few selected sources. The claim is that these positions are representative of Pre-WWI german military and civilian leadership. In support of this contention 4 german sources appear:
    Jäger, Hellwald, Ziegler and Bernhardi
    Bernhardi was fired from his position in the general staff after laying out the positions he describes in his book. The GS disagreed and the civilian leadership felt having people like him in high positions would make diplomacy hard, if not impossible. His published his book in German, selling less than 6000 copies. But both French and English translations became very popular and to some degree influenced what both the French and UK governments thought the German government was thinking.
    Jägers quote has a few ellispses and that's always worth checking out. And, yes he does state that nature is in a constant state of wars of annihilation - giving cometition between trees for sunlight as an example. He also notes that civilization allows humans to escape this condition. He sees nationalistic wars with limited goals that do not aim at the extermination of entire peoples as progress and argues that they will at some point be replaced entirely by diplomacy and economic transactions.
    Hellwald held the ascribed position, but he wasn't in any official position. While some of his books sold well, his social darwinism, which was replaced more and more by plain racism cost him his position as a journalist and led to an isolated position as he drifted further and further to the right.
    On Ziegler I can't find an awful lot. The quote is taken from a book he wrote about social democrat August Bebel. It got some reviews in mostly the left wing press (and mostly on his contention that there was a genetic predisposition to marriage, contra Bebels view that there might be a predisposition to monogamy, but that marriage was a cultural phenomenon). I can't find a lot on Ziegler in a recent article by Bayertz (1998) discussing political receptions and conceptions of Darwinian thought in Germany in the late 19th century, but he was Editor for a book that in 1903 collected essays on the relevance of Darwinism for political and social programs funded by Krupp. The collection was not homogenous - while some authors held social darwinist views, others took different ideas from Darwin. As Bayertz notes there are at least 4 different schools of thought arising from taking Darwin into account in politics in Germany:
    - A liberal democratic version that is mainly concerned with how diversity arises
    - A socialist version that mainly cherishes the fact that a naturalistic explanation for the diversity of life exists.
    - A policy oriented version that was mainly looking at the combination of universal mechanisms combined with a historical development to take methodological hints for social sciences like economy and sociology.

    It's worth noting that the Kaiserreich banned evolutionary biology from schools, because it was mostly associated with the socialist version. The argument made was that teaching evolution would lead to additional support for social democracy. The right wing interpretation did not have an impact that came even close prior to WWI - though it did so after WWI.

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  5. Social Darwinism misused evolutionary biology to justify domination of elites over society, and one nation over another. Were there biologists who went along with this? Sure. Did Charles Darwin succumb to this temptation? Sometimes.

    But the militaristic nationalism of the late 19th and early 20th century was not simply a response to the writings of evolutionary biologists. As Tom noted, it co-opted evolution as a justification for nationalism and for imperialism, when it wasn't busy banning discussion of evolution. There is no reason to believe that if biologists had never discussed evolution, that the militarists would have had a change of heart and become pacifists. The film would have you believe that the militarists in Germany were simply blindly following Charles Darwin.

    John West and the Discovery Institute are of course not interested in a careful assessment of the causes of World War I. They are only interested in guilt by association, in hopes that people will conclude that evolution hasn't happened and that Darwin was wrong about natural selection. They really want people to conclude that evolutionary biology is wrong, because to conclude otherwise, they would have to themselves become racists and Nazis.

    Weickart is playing footsie with the Discovery Institute. More than that: he is himself a Senior Fellow of the Center for Science and Culture of the Discovery Institute.

    A couple of additional points:

    1. Militaristic nationalism, often using biology as a justification, was not only in Germany during this period -- it was everywhere. The film would leave one to conclude that all this mostly happened in Germany.

    2. The film uses the term "Neo-Darwinism". The Neo-Darwinists were biologists in the immediate aftermath of Darwin, who upheld natural selection as a chief mechanism of the evolution of adaptations. People like George Romanes, Alfred Russel Wallace, August Weismann, and Ray Lankester. The term was revived again in the 1940s and 1950s, but lately has been mostly abandoned, as biologists have realized that this risked confusion with its earlier use, and these days the term "Modern Synthesis" is more routinely used. The people who made the film would not be unhappy if viewers confuse the two and think that the "neo-Darwinism" described in the film is the modern synthetic theory of evolution.

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  6. FTR - the Nazis were far more fixated on Mendel than Darwin but of course that fact of history doesn't fit well with preconceived notions of atheist science as evil, given Mendel's clerical credentials.

    I still shudder to remember the first time I stumbled across a copy of the Hitlerjugend Handbook in the university library.

    Reading it in the original German is chilling.

    http://webzoom.freewebs.com/spiritualwarfare666/Nazi%20Primer-%20Hitler%20Youth%20Manual.pdf

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    1. The Nazis would have been a sorry little radical movement without the long Lutheran tradition of anti-Semitism and their "kinder, kuchen, kirche" (children, cooking, church) political platform to rally the majority of the German people to their cause. Then there was brave Pope Pius, who failed to exercise his "moral authority" to ask the overwhelmingly Catholic Poles to help the millions of jews in their midst.

      But I'm sure the real reason was that these tens of millions of Germans and Poles all had a keen interest in evolutionary biology.

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    2. @ judmarc

      I was fortunate to have discussed this question with Raul Hillberg shortly before he passed away. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raul_Hilberg

      Quick and short version: the German Resistance was significant and even more significant than the French Resistance.

      Furthermore the German Resistance was often as not inspired and lead by Church leaders
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Resistance_to_Nazism#Role_of_the_churches

      OK OK – was there clerical collaboration? Yes

      Was there clerical resistance? Definitely.

      Were some clerics heroes while others were cowards? Sure!

      The historical record is not so binary as your post implies.

      FTR – my own father was part of the resistance and thrown into Dachau for his efforts, explaining my personal interest in the subject.

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    3. The vast majority of my maternal grandmother's and grandfather's families perished in the Holocaust, explaining my interest in the subject.

      Have you seen the movie "Shoah," specifically the part where Polish people who moved into homes formerly occupied by Jews talk about what they think?

      I did not mean to imply the historical record was "binary." What I meant to say explicitly is that the numbers of citizens who were willing accomplices in the Holocaust across Europe numbered in the tens or possibly hundreds of millions, while those who resisted numbered in the tens or possibly hundreds of thousands (have a look at Wikipedia or any more authoritative resource). That's a factor of a thousand difference, i.e., the resistance amounted to .1% of the Holocaust supporters. And of course the resistance only became necessary, as I mentioned previously, because of the political support for the Nazi party among the German people.

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    4. Judmarc

      You and I share much in common regarding family history; perhaps I can claim the added distinction of family perishing to communism no differently than fascism.

      Your thesis is familiar to me. You are basically recapitulating Daniel Goldhagen’s version of the Banality of Evil in his book Hitler's Willing Executioners
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hitler's_Willing_Executioners

      I serious issues with this thesis that can I can contradict by a simple summary:

      Not every German was a Nazi and not every Nazi was a German!

      Unlike you and Goldhagen, I do not believe the Germans were fundamentally different from other Europeans.

      I suggest you check out Raul Hillberg’s book and its excellent cataloguing of European complicity with Hitler’s “final solution” from the lowest to the highest level of polite and cultured society in every European nation with the noble exception of Denmark.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Destruction_of_the_European_Jews

      Canada and USA were similarly guilty of complicity. Remember Canada’s official stand to the plight of Jewish refugees: “… none is too many!”

      Meanwhile, a great many more Germans exhibited far more decency than Goldhagen would have us believe. I refer you again to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Resistance_to_Nazism

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    6. I agree with what you've written, particularly the italicized portion.

      What I wanted to point out is that to me it is absurd to pose religion as the moral counter to Darwin's influence on the Holocaust. The overwhelming majority of the millions upon millions of the "religious" who participated in the slaughter (or, as you noted with respect to Canada and the US, prevented those subject to it from saving themselves) knew and cared nothing about evolutionary biology.

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    7. Judmarc

      I think you estimate the impact of Faith as ideology in opposition to totalitarianism as ideology.

      Just ask any resident participant of Polish descent here about Solidarność's chances of success were it not for Polish Catholicism.

      Delete
    8. ...of course I meant to say "UNDERestimate the impact of Faith as ideology in opposition to totalitarianism as ideology."

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    9. Hey Tom,

      Just ask any resident participant of Polish descent here about Solidarność's chances of success were it not for Polish Catholicism.

      Indeed, ask them about the collaboration between the Catholic church and Poland’s secret police. By the Catholic churchs own admission 15% of Polish clergy collaborated with Polish secret police.

      From the New York Times:

      Most researchers who have delved into the archives of the Sluzba Bezpieczenstwa, or Security Service, estimate that thousands of the country’s priests, monks and nuns at the time — as many as 10 percent of the total — collaborated with the secret police to some degree.
      ...
      Poland’s current primate and archbishop of Warsaw, Cardinal Jozef Glemp, told an Italian news agency last year that the overall percentage was 15 percent. The percentage was likely to have been much higher in major cities and university towns, some historians say, where surveillance was heavier.


      And this is not unique to Poland, the Catholic church collaborated with secret police across most eastern bloc countries.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/10/world/europe/10poland.html

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    10. Yeah, isn't the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church a former KGB operative?

      Of course, in Nazi Germany it was far worse. Virtually every major group of Christians supported Nazism at least most of the time-- Catholics opposed the NSDAP before the Vatican signed the Concordat with Hitler, but by 1934 they were mostly supporting the Nazis. The Protestants always supported the Nazis, not just the Deutsche Christen (obviously) but all the other evangelicals. The Lutherans, DC, BK, everybody but the JWs.

      Take the Confessing Church (BK, Bekennende Kirche) for example. Today the BK is presented by Christians as an example of true Christians resisting Nazism. Hilarious. Actually 85% of BK pastors swore loyalty to Hitler and the bastards sang the Horst Wessel song, but today we're supposed to believe they were the opposition!

      The myth of Christianity opposing Nazism was concocted after the war for political reasons. #1, there were so many racists, anti-Semites, Nazi badge holders, actual stormtroopers and collaborators in the Protestant churches that you couldn't jail them all. 2 if the Allied occupying forces had to deNazify the churches, it would raise issues of separation of church and state, which the Lutherans would get all butthurt about because of Luther's doctrine. #3, the Americans wanted a united front against godless communism. So hold your nose, shut your eyes. The myth of a Christian opposition to Nazism had to be fabricated, and the BK was chosen for the role. Worse, far worse, the Allies put the churches in charge of denazifying themselves, a privilege accorded to no other German institution. Of course, one pro-Nazi theologian would be corruptly declared "denazified" by his corrupt colleagues, then he would turn around and perjure himself to get some more Xian buddies off the hook, and so on.

      This story is told in Susannah Heschel's Aryan Jesus. While her stories of bigshot Protestant theologians fanaticallly supporting anti-Semitism, racism, Nazism, eugenics and even mass murder before and during the war are horrifying, the stories from after the war are so infuriating that you will want to throw the book out the window. The bastards lied, and because they were God's representatives on Earth, they got away with it. They walked, and many went on to illustrious post-war carers in theology, and are still cited today.

      Even notorious race theorist Hans F.K. Gunther, the architect of the NSDAP racial classification scheme, had a postwar career... as a Christian theologian.

      As for the Catholics, not only did Bishop Alois Hudal write Foundations of National Socialism, claiming that support of Nazism was mandatory for Catholics, but, after the war, Hudal and some Croatian Catholic bigwigs set up the ratlines to get Nazi war criminals fake identity papers so they could get out of Europe to South America or Arab countries. Hudal said that the Nazi war criminals were the true victims.

      And after the Einsatzgruppen (Special Units) war criminals were all sentenced to be hung, American conservative Christians-- probably the Family again, the Presidential Prayer Breakfast guys-- intervened politically to get the mass murderers' sentences commuted.

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    11. Just ask any resident participant of Polish descent here about Solidarność's chances of success were it not for Polish Catholicism.

      Poland is predominantly Catholic. Solidarity was a mass movement. Unsurprisingly, the successful mass movement was predominantly Catholic, which simply reflected the composition of the population. The Church of course offered its support to Solidarity, and the papal visits to Poland in 1979 (just before Solidarity) and in 1983 (as martial law was gradually relaxed) raised national spirits. But many of the leaders of the democratic opposition were non-believers (and in some cases lapsed Party members); if anything, atheists were over-represented in those circles. I can't see much real connection between Polish Catholicism and the success of Solidarity. Needless to say, upon the collapse of Communism in Poland the Church emphasised its contribution and presented a long political bill to pay: the Concordat of 1993; religion classes in state-run primary and secondary schools; laws against offending religious feelings or insulting objects of religious cult; restitution of church property (carried out by a commission which worked without any real control or transparent procedures, and whose legal status was conveniently shadowy).

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    12. @ Piotr

      I can't see much real connection between Polish Catholicism and the success of Solidarity

      Hmmmm… interesting response! I cannot concur.

      I understand and agree with your contention that Poland is far more secular than many would have us believe, and that many in the Solidarnosc leadership were Catholic in name only.

      Agreed.

      My contention is somewhat more subtle. Consider what we all agreed to above:

      Darwin did NOT cause reactionary extremism nor militaristic nationalism…

      … however, Darwin was CO-OPTED by reactionary extremists and militaristic nationalists including the Nazis.


      Similarly, Catholicism did NOT cause Polish resistance to communism…

      … however, Catholicism was CO-OPTED by Solidarnosc.

      I remember these days well and discussed Solidarnosc’s prospects with a Croatian ex-pat nationalist who despised communism no less than I. I won a bet by suggesting that Solidarnosc’s co-opting of Catholicism as a means of political protest in Poland could prove successful.

      I note with some irony that church attendance dropped precipitously after the communists were thrown out. That fact does not belittle the importance of the Church’s alliance with Solidarnosc.

      I became very excited at Solidarnosc’s success wondering if the Berlin Wall would soon follow suit. Here is what Lech Wałęsa had to say on the occasion:

      “The truth is that 50% of the fall of the Wall belongs to John Paul II, 30% to Solidarity and Lech Walesa and only 20% to the rest of the world. That was the truth then and is the truth now.
      http://en.mercopress.com/2009/11/10/the-main-credit-for-the-fall-of-the-berlin-wall-belongs-to-pope-john-paul-i

      Self-serving hubris perhaps? Maybe.

      I direct your attention to a great article by Carl Bernstein (of Watergate fame) who cannot be labeled some evangelical with a personal agenda or a right-wing axe to grind.
      http://carlbernstein.com/magazine_holy_alliance.php

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    13. ...many in the Solidarnosc leadership were Catholic in name only.

      Not even in name, especially Wałęsa's advisors, who were intellectuals rather than industrial workers, and a good percentage of them were out-of-the-closet atheists, not nominal Catholics. And Solidarność (the independent trade union) should not be identified with the broader front of anti-Communist opposition.

      Here is what Lech Wałęsa had to say on the occasion...

      Wałęsa is a great talker, but he often talks faster than he thinks, and exaggeration is his chief rhetorical weapon.

      http://carlbernstein.com/magazine_holy_alliance.php

      LOL, so it was mainly the devout Catholics in the Reagan Administration plus Reagan himself and John Paul II who really liberated Poland? I have heard it argued before -- by Michael Egnor.

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    14. @ Diogenes

      The myth of Christianity opposing Nazism was concocted after the war for political reasons

      Much (not all) of what you say has merit.

      I will repeat an earlier exchange with judmarc

      Was there clerical resistance? Definitely. Were some clerics heroes while others were cowards? Sure!

      Let’s take it one step further – Were some clerics outright criminals? Absolutely!

      I still cringe in horror to recall Raul Hillberg’s descriptions of former Franciscan priests who exchanged habits for uniforms to perpetrate the most brutal cruelty in Jasenovac.

      That said – Faith-motivated resistance movements to Nazism is NO myth.

      As ONLY just ONE example: http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007188

      That also said, I agree with you that there were far too few heroes and far too many collaborators (passive and active) amoung the clergy in Nazi Germany. On this we agree.

      I am reminded of Martin Niemoller’s famous poem
      http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007392

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    15. @ Piotr

      Last I heard - Carl Bernstein was neither Catholic nor a Reagan-supporter.

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    16. Just ask any resident participant of Polish descent here about Solidarność's chances of success were it not for Polish Catholicism.

      Indeed, and there are Walesa's own political instincts, such as his accusation that the main opposition candidate for President was a secret Jew.

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    17. @ Judmarc

      I hear ya! Fact is… I am no fan of Lech Walesa. Although he proved to be the right man at the right time to help overthrow Polish Communism… he still had feet of clay and was possibly even a secret-police informer for the commies.

      I remember Yitzak Shamir once remarked that "every Pole sucked anti-Semitism with his mother's milk."

      The last pogrom in Poland was in 1968 for crying out loud!

      This may interest you:

      http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/176408#.VK6suGTD_IU

      A few years ago, I befriended a Polish MD/PhD researcher who was working in our lab. He secretly confided something that even his in-laws dare never discover. He was Jewish. He trusted me to keep this secret.

      I asked him if anti-Semitism in Poland was really still such an issue. The look on his face was answer enough.

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    18. Indeed, and there are Walesa's own political instincts, such as his accusation that the main opposition candidate for President was a secret Jew.

      It was especially mean in view of the fact that several of Wałęsa strategic advisors from the early Solidarity period and founding fathers of our democratic opposition, people who had been very close to him and to whom he had owed a lot, had Jewish roots and never made a secret of it. I mean, for example, Bronisław Geremek, a distinguished Polish and EU politician after 1989, and Adam Michnik, for the last 25 years the editor-in-chief of the largest Polish newspaper.

      @Tom: As for Shamir's opinion, it certainly isn't true of "every Pole"; my mother's milk, for example, must have contained some different stuff.

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    19. Last I heard - Carl Bernstein was neither Catholic nor a Reagan-supporter.

      I was referring to the stuff he wrote, not to himself. I wonder if Bernstein has ever visited Poland. American aid in the early 1980's was generous and important, but hardly decisive. There are things no foreign power can do for you if you don't do them for yourself.

      I have little doubt, though, the people he talked to thought a lot of their own role in overthrowing Communism. Michael Egnor also told me Poles should be grateful for how hard he prayed for us.

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    20. Yes, that exchange with Ignor was not merely disgusting but embarrassing to all Americans. Smegnor didn't just claim the American Christian right liberated Poland, he demanded that Piotr (who was actually in the Polish opposition) should express gratitude to Smegnor (whose only contribution to Polish freedom was thinking bad thoughts about atheists from thousands of miles away.)

      Now Tom.


      Just ask any resident participant of Polish descent here about Solidarność's chances of success were it not for Polish Catholicism.


      Is this a falsifiable statement? Or is it just hyperbole?

      You asked, and a Polish resident participant answered: Piotr. He did not agree with you. If your statement is falsifiable, it's been falsified.

      If it's not falsifiable, it was just rhetoric, right?

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    21. Piotr

      As for Shamir's opinion, it certainly isn't true of "every Pole"; my mother's milk, for example, must have contained some different stuff.

      Oh dear – my sincerest apologies. My intent was never to impugn ALL Poles as anti-Semites. I was merely continuing in the previous vein that not all Germans were Nazi and not all Nazis were German.

      Consider the historical context of Yitzak Shamir’s statement as a Jew who endured Polish anti-Semitism during the inter-war years (only possible because of Catholic complicity I may add) and how Shamir’s own father was killed by villagers who he had considered his childhood friends.

      I would never reiterate Hitler’s Rassenschuld. I apologize for any misunderstanding.

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    22. @ Diogenes

      Re: Just ask any resident participant of Polish descent here about Solidarność's chances of success were it not for Polish Catholicism.

      Is this a falsifiable statement? Or is it just hyperbole?

      You asked, and a Polish resident participant answered: Piotr. He did not agree with you. If your statement is falsifiable, it's been falsified.

      If it's not falsifiable, it was just rhetoric, right?


      Diogenes, I concede that again it would appear you are correct!

      Allow me to explain:

      During the Solidarnosc years I spent a lot of time with the Croatian and Polish communities (for a variety of complicated reasons) and continue to do so today. As a matter of fact, my command of both Croatian and Polish is not so so bad.

      Frankly, I am flabbergasted at Piotr’s response and wonder out loud whether he over-states his case. Either Piotr represents an anomalous data point, or my previous impressions have been formed by skewed data.

      When I consider charismatic heroes such as Jerzy Popiełuszko who clearly had a huge impact on the success of Polish resistance to Communism, I still confess that Piotr's answer leaves me scratching my head.

      But no – I will not weasel out of this apology. You are correct, I clearly over-stated my case according to your criterion of “falsifiability”.

      You are right - I was wrong: My Bad!

      Now while still on the subject of “rhetoric”:

      Will you also respond to my earlier query?

      @ Diogenes… I ask you to reconsider. Are you suggesting that the ongoing famine in North Korea is not deliberate? Please tell me you misspoke.

      Ditto

      Mao’s DELIBERATE instigation of China’s Great Famine ?!

      Please reconsider http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/20TH.HTM

      Regarding mreagnor, PUHLESE! Even a broken clock like mreagnor can be correct at least twice a day. Not every statement from mreagnor is ipso facto false, although I admit that any of his correct statements have only managed to be right for the wrong reasons.

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    23. @ Piotr

      My last kick at this can:


      In a previous post I contended that Catholicism was CO-OPTED by Solidarnosc and the Polish Resistance to Communism.

      Do you disagree with this statement?

      I further stated that Polish Resistance co-opting Catholicism clearly contributed significantly to its success and the overthrow of Communism.

      Why do you insist that statement is incorrect when so many of your confreres would claim otherwise? Note - I am not claiming everybody was in fact a devout Catholic.

      I am not being deliberately obtuse - I am sincerely confounded.

      best and grateful regards

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    24. Tom, briefly: Being anti-Communist (even heroically) doesn't automatically mean being pro-democracy. After all, Hitler was anti-Communist too, and a German patriot, in a sick way. The institutional Church (individual priests may have had other motives) opposed Communism not so much for the benefit of the people as in its own interest as a power structure. The conservative wing of the Catholic Church in Poland would be only too happy to crown Jesus Christ King of Poland, adopt the role of his earthly stewards, and enforce the Catholic doctrine as the basis of the legal system. The material greed and political power lust of some priests and bishops has become obvious now, as there is no oppressive system to justify their pretensions to meddling in politics as self-appointed "leaders of the masses". Even many practising Catholics are put off by such attitudes (not to mention really sinister things like paedophilic scandals and attempts to cover them up). Popiełuszko was brutally murdered by the secret police and became a hero and an icon of the Solidarity movement posthumously. His constructive contribution to making Poland a democracy was the fact that he was an outspoken advocate of human rights. I don't question that. But had he lived to see the end of Communism, I wonder how he would face the issues of today's society in those areas where the influence of the Church is particularly divisive: abortion, in vitro fertilisation, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, anything else to do with sex and gender, religion classes, etc.

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    25. Piotr

      I thank you for your patience and your indulgence, but respectfully you failed to address my two questions.

      First, I can appreciate much of your anti-Catholic sentiment.

      So let's attempt to invoke Feindeslob klingt!

      Do you disagree with the statement that Catholicism was CO-OPTED by Solidarnosc and the Polish Resistance to Communism?

      and

      ...that Polish Resistance co-opting Catholicism clearly contributed significantly to its success and the overthrow of Communism?

      That's all I am asking - nothing more.

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    26. Do you disagree with the statement that Catholicism was CO-OPTED by Solidarnosc and the Polish Resistance to Communism?

      I would put it differently. There were strategic alliances (sometimes stable, sometimes temporary) between the Church and various dissident groups, made easier by the fact that most people in any such group were Catholic anyway (correlation, not causation). There were Catholics in the ruling party too, and there were party members who joined Solidarity. Co-operation (whether enthusiastic or reluctant) is something different from co-option. Was Stalin "coopted" by Roosevelt and Churchill? Or were Roosevelt and Churchill "co-opted" by Stalin? I wouldn't put it that way.

      Having an ally is fine in wartime, but overthrowing Communism was the easy part. The system was not economically viable and its eventual collapse was inevitable. The success of the former Eastern Bloc countries did not consist merely in overthrowing a totalitarian system but in replacing it with a democratic one. Luckily, it wasn't like Iran, where the Shah 's autocracy was abolished and replaced by the Ayatollahs' theocracy.

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    27. Hey Tom.

      Are you actually allowed contact with high school students ?

      If the content of your posts are any indication of what you are inflicting on young, impressionable minds, you are doing your students a great disservice.

      Shame on you for regurgitating the unprocessed raw sewage of conspiracy theory web sites and then attempting to rationalize your unmitigated bullshit with personal anecdotes and unctuous grovelling when finally cornered by your lies.

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    28. Hi again Piotr,

      I have to say that you are a unique individual and it has been a most interesting exchange. I have never met a Polish Patriot who speaks quite as you do and I have conversed with more than a few.

      “Throwing off Communism was the easy part”?! “Collapse was inevitable?” Hmmm!

      Your dismissal of Carl Bernstein? Hmmm, again.

      Popiełuszko just another “human rights advocate?” Is that how he himself would have seen himself? Yet again hmmm…

      I wonder whether the Polish diaspora is no longer in synch with Polish sentiment in Poland.

      Then, I recall that even Gorbachev grudgingly conceded that the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification was only possible because of Pope John-Paul. I read the German Press and I assure you that your version of events is not at all main-stream from a German perspective.

      Piotr, out of curiosity, how would you describe yourself – typical or atypical of Polish sentiment? Your presence on this forum of self-avowed skeptics would suggest to me the later.

      Dziękuję i pozdrawiam

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    29. Tom, I do not know or care what a "typical" Polish Patriot (capitalised) looks like, or what "Polish sentiment" is supposed to be. We are not the Borg. Do you expect other participants here to represent the respective hive minds of Canada, Denmark, Britain, etc., or to think and speak for themselves?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QereR0CViMY

      As a German, you must be aware that the Wall was pulled down manually by the Berliners, and not telekinetically by the Pope. The political processes that eventually made it possible were complex and cannot be reduced to a single cause.

      Please have a look at this blog post by Jesse Larner. He is just slightly younger than me, and he knows Eastern Europe well from personal experience. What he says makes vastly more sense to me than Carl Bernstein's romantic conspiracy theory.

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    30. Oops, I messed up the first link. Let me try to fix it:

      We're all individuals.

      Delete
    31. Further to Piotr, two incredibly simple ideas that might seem contradictory, but really are not:

      - The first is, as the title of Piotr's link says, "We're all individuals."

      - The second is, "Everybody's just people."

      See? Simple!

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    32. Don't you think it's time for a graceful withdrawal, Tom Mueller? When you asked, Just ask any resident participant of Polish descent here about Solidarność's chances of success were it not for Polish Catholicism you presumably did know that we do indeed have a resident Pole here (and not just someone of Polish descent, who might have had his head filled with ignorant propaganda all his life, like the Miami Cubans). When Piotr said things that didn't correspond to your prejudices, did it occur to you that perhaps you might be wrong?

      Delete
    33. Hi Piotr,

      Thank you for both those links. That Life of Brian scene is one of my favorites. I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself at the end [Crowd: “Yes we are all different!” Solitary Voice: “I’m not!”]

      I muttered out loud: “I bet his name was Piotr.” ;-)

      Regarding the Jesse Larner post:

      Oh wow… I have to disagree in the most vehement terms!

      And here's why the idea that "Reagan did it" (or the variant, "Gorbachev let it happen") really bugs me. These models arrogantly presume that the peoples of East Central Europe, of the German Democratic Republic, of the Baltics, of the Union itself, did nothing to liberate themselves.

      Really?! Then answer me this. Why hasn’t the Democratic People's Republic of Korea followed the example of the DDR?!

      … the peoples who lived under Soviet Communism freed themselves in the end…

      Seriously?! Again, tell that to the North Koreans! … or the victims of Tienmen! … or the umbrella protesters in Hong Kong!

      I think we need to reexamine the logical implicational relationships of “necessary” vs. “sufficient”

      Were Reagan’s and the Vatican’s machinations or Gorbachev’s vacillations on their own sufficient to bring down Eastern European Communism?

      I agree with you and Jesse Larner - none of the above were sufficient.

      Next question: Were Reagan’s and the Vatican’s machinations and Gorbachev’s vacillations necessary to bring down Eastern European Communism?

      I know you will disagree, but I don’t imagine for a minute that had Putin been in charge instead of Gorbachev or Yeltsin we would be having this conversation right now.

      I know you will disagree, but I don’t imagine for a minute that had the current Pope been Italian, we would be having this conversation right now.

      I agree that the heroic resistance of Eastern Europeans was necessary to bring down communism, but it was not sufficient.

      I do agree with Jesse Larner’s assessment of Reagan. Reagan was a madman who bankrupted America on the altar of ideology; but then that assessment only strengthens my thesis.

      I think you may find this interesting: http://tinyurl.com/lsmskql

      One reason Evolution is necessarily true is based on the principle of consilience. I similarly invoke consilience in my defense; I can cite a variety of sources that support my contention from secular Jews to devout Popes, and commentary from any nationality or political stripe.

      I respect your response that we are not the Borg. After all the entire premise of this blog is “strolling with a skeptical biochemist” in order to challenge conventional wisdom.

      Wow! I have to say Piotr, you accomplished that in spades! Again I have to thank you.

      Jeszcze raz, dziękuję i pozdrawiam!

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  7. Hollywood is making a mistake giving creationists a voice. Their stupid.
    Larry moran is wrong. Most Hollywood selections are poltically motivated. Very little interst in production or quality. they think they matter and their choices matter in society in highlighting issues they care about.
    Hollywood stresses the holocaust and bringing WW1 into issues of race is welcome to them.
    Its hilarious to see two wrongs can make a right.!

    Educated europe was taught and believed evolutionism equals segregated intellectual growth of segregated mankind.
    The results of European superiority was obvious to them .
    Yet for the common people it was not on their minds.
    The arguments for war made to the people did not invoke evolutionary ideas on race etc.
    The people are to blame for the wars . They did the warring.

    It is interesting in these waning days of evolutionary biology as a legitimate scientific theory that the issue of historical uses of evolution is such stumbling block.
    Its like in the WAR OF THE WORLDS. It was germs that killed off the martians and not mankinds weapons.
    Evolution, this movie documenting by its selection for award, is being greatly discredited.
    Indeed evolution has a problem with race/sex/intelligence by genes.
    Just listen to Stephen Pinker.! And Nicholas Wade. And heaps more who don;'t reach large audiences.

    By the way I don't think evolution was very much responsible for the wars/deaths even at theoretical levels.
    I do watch lots of youtube docs on these wars.
    Evolutionism had no impact on the fighting population in motivating them in intent and deeds.
    If a few leaders were affected a lot more were not.
    Why would not our side's leaders be affected! Was our leaders/people completly non evolution as to motives?
    WW1intents is not a mystery.
    It would of happened the same without Darwin's idea.
    Just because a few Germans justify their war on evolutionary concepts is not proof its their real motives.
    Naw. Evolutionism was not a cause worth noting for either war.
    Presumptions are there but too far away.
    The bigger question is why did God allow so many on the good side to die?
    AHa. There are wrong motivations in these wars!

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  8. There's a delightful little movement in Britain operating on a fundamentalist-Christian, nationalistic, anti-Islamic platform. I doubt they espouse evolutionary justification for their assumed superiority. And I doubt their political heroes did either. The impact of science on political views is approximately nil. The impact of religion is enormous. Genocide is not a post-1859 novelty.

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