Thursday, June 12, 2008

Astonishing intellectual dishonesty

I have been reading an excellent collection of Stephen Jay Gould's writings off-and-on for while now and have been thoroughly enjoying it. The book is called The Richness of Life: The Essential Stephen Jay Gould and is edited by Steven Rose and Paul McGarr. While Gould is not popular among evolutionary psychologists (and understandably so), I don't want to focus on that right now, because the editors are guilty of truly astonishing intellectual dishonesty. In their introduction to the section of the book about "Sociobiology and Evolutionary Psychology", Rose and McGarr write:
Steve [Gould] was one of those centrally involved in the counterattack on the Wilsonian theses, notably the assumption that central features of United States society - its class, race, and gender structure, its inequalities of status and wealth - were adaptive, evolved feature of the human condition, deducible from Darwinian principles.
They are referring, of course, to E. O. Wilson's seminal 1975 book, Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. The risible thing is, Wilson never said anything even remotely like this. You will look in vain for any statement in the last chapter of Sociobiology or the whole of On Human Nature for an argument (or "assumption") that racism, sexism and inequality are somehow "adaptive". Indeed, given that racism and sexism have certainly waned in the US since 1975, surely the editors are now committed to the position that Wilson thinks current US society is maladapted because of these changes? If so, Wilson is not letting on.

Rose and McGarr again demonstrate there is a strong negative correlation between honesty and Marxism, and a strong positive correlation between Marxism and dumb beliefs.


  1. It sure is dishonest, but I'm not even slightly astonished, at least not after having read as much as I could (enough to regret it whenever I think of it) of 'Alas Poor Darwin'.

  2. The review of 'Alas Poor Darwin' on The Human Nature Review is more patient than I could have been:

  3. Yeah. I had that book out of the library for ages but could not bear to read much of it. It was genuinely painful.

    Yeah, I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised. The "radical science" guys have never let obvious truths interfere with their silly ideology.