Professor Dawkins has redeemed himself.
Well, no, that’s not quite true. But he has certainly taken the first step. And as Malcolm X put it, if you take one step toward Allah, Allah takes two steps toward you. (For many years after I first read Haley’s so-called ‘autobiography,’ which I discovered at a shockingly tender age, I was a little worried that I might accidentally take my one step.)
Because Professor Dawkins has defended Dr. Watson. His people released this quote:
‘What is ethically wrong is the hounding, by what can only be described
as an illiberal and intolerant “thought police”, of one of the most
distinguished scientists of our time, out of the Science Museum, and
maybe out of the laboratory that he has devoted much of his life to,
building up a world-class reputation.”
No one can defend Professor Dawkins’ grammar. But otherwise, this is really unimprovable. It does the man great credit.
It doesn’t mean he’s not still pwned, though. Because dear God! That shifting moral Zeitgeist! I guess it’s not so mysterious anymore! I guess we know how it shifts, now, don’t we, Professor Dawkins? Who knew? An illiberal and intolerant “thought police”? My word. Why, I never should have guessed.
Someone needs to run, not walk, to the nearest copy of Richard Ellis’s The Dark Side of the Left: Illiberal Egalitarianism in America. This can be chased with George McKenna’s new, and really really excellent, Puritan Origins of American Patriotism. And if any doubts remain the whole regimen can be topped off with a good solid dose of Arthur Lipow’s Authoritarian Socialism in America: Edward Bellamy and the Nationalist Movement. (If you are not a Plainlander and you wonder about the excessive appearance of the A-word in these titles, this is a normal attitude for residents of Washcorp’s outer territories.)
Note that none of the above monographs is published by Regnery or Crown Forum. They are scholarly volumes by respectable historians, who would probably no more consider voting for a Republican than you or I would consider sodomizing a mongoose. Their print is a normal size and they use tasteful fonts. And they can be read by normal, intelligent, educated people.
As for Dr. Watson, he has not come out so badly at all. First, he who laughs last, etc. Second, if you read his book, you realize that he is (a) still sharp as a tack and (b) no less the ruthless, Napoleonic scientific bureaucrat than any of his critics. I can’t believe he didn’t at least to some extent know what he was doing. I find Larry Auster’s criticism of Dr. Watson very cogent, and I’m sure he regretted a few tactical missteps. But if you assume that the man believes what he said he believed in the first place, I can’t think of a more stylish way to retire.
What does Dr. Watson believe, anyway? As he put it in his eloquent, and widely-misquoted, non-recantation:
We do not yet adequately understand the way in which the different environments in the world have selected over time the genes which determine our capacity to do different things. The overwhelming desire of society today is to assume that equal powers of reason are a universal heritage of humanity. It may well be. But simply wanting this to be the case is not enough. This is not science.
There is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically.
That’s twenty-four words by my count. Here at UR we are certainly familiar with this argument. But have we seen it so briefly and precisely put? Ha.
If Watson’s formula is too brief for you, Larry Moran, who I don’t believe has won any Nobel Prizes but is at least a professor of biochemistry, drags it out here:
We have a situation where there are distinct differences in intelligence between individuals within a deme. These within-deme differences have to be due to a number of alleles that are segregating within a population.
But somehow there’s a special buffering system that prevents allele differences between demes, right?
How, exactly does this work? When one of the alleles in a given deme drops in frequency—say by random genetic drift—is there some kind of signal sent to the other deme to make an adjustment? 🙂
Do you see the problem? As long as there are differences between individuals then it follows that these difference are due to differences in allele frequencies. (Assuming a genetic component.)
This means that there are a finite number of alleles segregating within the population. As long as that’s the case then it’s practically impossible for any two demes to have exactly the same frequency of alleles.
Hence, if there’s a genetic component to intelligence then different demes will almost certainly differ in the distribution of the phenotype manifest by the intelligence alleles.
The only way to avoid this unpleasant conclusion is to advocate that there is no genetic component to intelligence and everyone has exactly the same potential to be as smart as Albert Einstein or as stupid as Paris Hilton.
Actually, Professor Moran – no. You’re quite wrong. There’s another explanation.
And its name is the Flying Spaghetti Monster. It is the FSM, whose limp, starchy tentacles needless to say reach into all earthly affairs, which conveys the signal from deme to deme, which juggles the alleles as if they were oranges. (And the Flying Spaghetti Monster can juggle a lot of oranges.)
Thus, Professor Dawkins and his honor are restored. Not that there is any scientific evidence that the FSM exists, or that it manipulates our DNA in this sly, gelatinous manner. But there is certainly no scientific evidence that it doesn’t.
(What of Professor Rushton? What of him. The man is openly in the pay of the Elders of Albion. How he ever made his way onto NPR is quite beyond me. But perhaps the dark strength of the Elders has begun to grow again.)
We are all Pastafarians now. The continued existence of civilized society in 2007 depends utterly on the prophecy of Pas Tafari, and the Bland One Himself – sauce be upon him. RAmen. So watch it with those “hurtful comments,” kids.