You know, I really can’t stand George Gilder. He’s one of those pompous poseurs who pretends to be a fan of science and technology, yet whenever he opens his mouth you discover that he doesn’t know jack about the subject. I’ve excoriated Gilder before (a whuppin’ so cruel that Gilder’s daughter and then Gilder himself showed up in the comments to complain, and he was still publicly complaining about his brutal mistreatment a year later), but now he’s back with yet another rambling whimper about evolution.
Steve Reuland has already dismantled the babbling techno-geek in detail, so I’ll let him take care of most of it. I do want to mention the very revealing opening paragraphs, where Gilder exposes himself as an ideologue who is out to use his version of “science” in service to his biases. He used to like evolution:
Darwinism seemed to offer me and its other male devotees a long-sought tool—resembling the x-ray glasses lamentably found elsewhere only in cartoons—for stripping away the distracting décor of clothing and the political underwear of ideology worn by feminists and other young women of the day. Using this swashbuckling scheme of fitness and survival, nature “red in tooth and claw”, we could reveal our ideological nemeses as naked mammals on the savannah to be ruled and protected by hunting parties of macho males, rather like us.
But he was shocked and disappointed to learn that…OH NOES!! There are GIRLS in the clubhouse!!!
In actually writing and researching Sexual Suicide, however, I was alarmed to discover that both sides could play the game of telling just-so stories.
It is telling that in this section of his essay he is mentioning source that are marginal at best (Robert Ardrey and Elaine Morgan, for instance), and that his clearly stated intent is to use science where it suits him for nakedly ideological ends. It’s not surprising that he went on to help found the Discovery Institute, which continues to abuse science to fit its religious ends. I am also rather amused to learn that one of the wellsprings of Intelligent Design creationism was the frustrations of an anti-feminist, who discovered that he couldn’t use evolution to propagandize for gender inequity. That can’t possibly mean his bigotry was wrong, of course—it means biology is wrong!
The rest of it is the usual self-promoting puffery of Gilder, which Reuland has ably ripped apart—he tells us about learning molecular biology and information theory, when all he does is reveal over and over again that he doesn’t understand those subjects at all, having only learned a few buzzwords that he uses to try and wow the rubes. It’s all classic fast-talking con-artistry.
He’s also trying to argue that riches and information must trickle down from above, that there must be a hierarchy with the source of all at the top. Really.
Throughout the history of human thought, it has been convenient and inspirational to designate the summit of the hierarchy as God.
I’ve seen this kind of thing somewhere else. Do we really want to go back to the Middle Ages?