A feminist embarrassment

I cringed reading this woman’s lament that evolutionary biology is responsible for the oppression of women, starting with Darwin. It’s one long colossal failure of logic.

The argument has some genuinely true facts embedded in it, which then get spun out into a series of false conclusions. It is true that the Victorian gentlemen who formulated and expanded upon the theory of evolution tended to be 19th century chauvinists who made up stories about the inferiority of the feminine mind, and Darwin was right among them. It is also true that there are contemporary biologists who still make up similar stories and engage in blatant retrofitting of the data to rationalize sexism or racism (Satoshi Kanazawa comes to mind as one of the most egregious examples).

But don’t confuse cause and effect! Sexism predated evolutionary theory, and is a product of the wider culture. And creationism, most obviously, is extremely sexist, with its predefined gender roles and gender-based assignment of blame for the entirety of our wicked nature. To single out a late 19th century scientific theory and accuse it of promoting a deplorable cultural attitude that was both present before the theory was discovered, and present to an even greater degree in the individuals who strongly opposed the theory, is ridiculous in the extreme, and embarrassingly stupid.

But I’m not done. The entirety of the edifice of her logic is built on exactly one essay, one attack on evolution, by one guy. And that guy is the rabid squirrel of creationism, Jerry Bergman.

Bergman is so awful, so incompetent, so dishonest, that citing him in any way in support of your position (let alone allowing his lying slander of Darwin be the sole source) instantly discredits anything you might say. It says you have no discernment or capability of critical evaluation of your sources.

I’m sorry to say that the taint of incompetence has now also spread to Loretta Kemsley.

(Also on Sb)

A feminist embarrassment

I cringed reading this woman’s lament that evolutionary biology is responsible for the oppression of women, starting with Darwin. It’s one long colossal failure of logic.

The argument has some genuinely true facts embedded in it, which then get spun out into a series of false conclusions. It is true that the Victorian gentlemen who formulated and expanded upon the theory of evolution tended to be 19th century chauvinists who made up stories about the inferiority of the feminine mind, and Darwin was right among them. It is also true that there are contemporary biologists who still make up similar stories and engage in blatant retrofitting of the data to rationalize sexism or racism (Satoshi Kanazawa comes to mind as one of the most egregious examples).

But don’t confuse cause and effect! Sexism predated evolutionary theory, and is a product of the wider culture. And creationism, most obviously, is extremely sexist, with its predefined gender roles and gender-based assignment of blame for the entirety of our wicked nature. To single out a late 19th century scientific theory and accuse it of promoting a deplorable cultural attitude that was both present before the theory was discovered, and present to an even greater degree in the individuals who strongly opposed the theory, is ridiculous in the extreme, and embarrassingly stupid.

But I’m not done. The entirety of the edifice of her logic is built on exactly one essay, one attack on evolution, by one guy. And that guy is the rabid squirrel of creationism, Jerry Bergman.

Bergman is so awful, so incompetent, so dishonest, that citing him in any way in support of your position (let alone allowing his lying slander of Darwin be the sole source) instantly discredits anything you might say. It says you have no discernment or capability of critical evaluation of your sources.

I’m sorry to say that the taint of incompetence has now also spread to Loretta Kemsley.

(Also on FtB)

It’s like reading the letters section of my local newspaper!

Small town newspapers occasionally get letter-feuds going — it fuels subscriptions, since you really want to know how angry Sally Jo is going to get with Fred over his dog tearing up her petunias, and the back and forth can go on for months. Sometimes science gets that way, too.

The backstory: Augustin Fuentes wrote an editorial for Science in which he pointed out that Charles Darwin was a flawed, prejudiced Victorian man, as part of a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Descent of Man. While he may have been somewhat more progressive than many of his contemporaries, he still had awful racist views.

Darwin portrayed Indigenous peoples of the Americas and Australia as less than Europeans in capacity and behavior. Peoples of the African continent were consistently referred to as cognitively depauperate, less capable, and of a lower rank than other races. These assertions are confounding because in “Descent” Darwin offered refutation of natural selection as the process differentiating races, noting that traits used to characterize them appeared nonfunctional relative to capacity for success. As a scientist this should have given him pause, yet he still, baselessly, asserted evolutionary differences between races. He went beyond simple racial rankings, offering justification of empire and colonialism, and genocide, through “survival of the fittest.” This too is confounding given Darwin’s robust stance against slavery.

Not to mention his ideas about women.

In “Descent,” Darwin identified women as less capable than (White) men, often akin to the “lower races.” He described man as more courageous, energetic, inventive, and intelligent, invoking natural and sexual selection as justification, despite the lack of concrete data and biological assessment. His adamant assertions about the centrality of male agency and the passivity of the female in evolutionary processes, for humans and across the animal world, resonate with both Victorian and contemporary misogyny.

“GASP!” went some scientists. How dare he be so rude? Think of the harm it will do to science education if we reveal the flaws in our heroes! So they fired off a letter to the editor.

We fear that Fuentes’ vituperative exposition will encourage a spectrum of anti-evolution voices and damage prospects for an expanded, more gender and ethnically diverse new generation of evolutionary scientists.

Oh, dear. So rather than be interested in the truth, we should conceal those past embarrassments, lest a creationist discover them. This is a terrible idea, because eventually someone will discover them (they’re in books in the public domain, you know), and then it’ll be the cover-up that is the scandal. Have they learned nothing from political history?

In The Descent he demolished the slavery-justifying view of different races as separate species, so inspiring the anti-racist perspectives of later anthropologists like Boaz. On sexism, Darwin suggested that education of “reason and imagination” would erase mental sex differences. His theory of sexual selection gave female animals a central role in mate choice and evolution.

On races, sure, he was better than many, and he also criticizes the race “science” of his day, noting that none of the proponents of that dangerous nonsense could even agree on the number and boundaries of the various races. He was an abolitionist, but as we Americans should know from our history, you can oppose slavery while still having demeaning views of black people. While it is correct that he demolished the idea of different races as different species, he still thought the races had different characters, which is a belief that still feeds racist views. Like this, from the Descent of Man.

There is, however, no doubt that the various races, when carefully compared and measured, differ much from each other,—as in the texture of the hair, the relative proportions of all parts of the body, the capacity of the lungs, the form and capacity of the skull, and even in the convolutions of the brain. But it would be an endless task to specify the numerous points of structural difference. The races differ also in constitution, in acclimatisation, and in liability to certain diseases. Their mental characteristics are likewise very distinct; chiefly as it would appear in their emotional, but partly in their intellectual, faculties. Every one who has had the opportunity of comparison, must have been struck with the contrast between the taciturn, even morose, aborigines of S. America and the light-hearted, talkative negroes.

Oh, those light-hearted negroes, chattering away happily out on the plantation, with their distinct mental characteristics! How dare you accuse Darwin of still clinging to the stereotypes of his day, and being less enlightened than he should have been?

What about his views on women? Did Darwin really think the differences in intellect between men and women would be erased by education?

Here my comparison to conflicts in the letters section of my local newspaper falls down, because Science hasn’t published what should be the next reply in the chain. Holly Dunsworth called the Darwin apologists on their claims by actually reading their citation that purportedly shows how egalitarian Darwin was. Ooops. Here’s Dunsworth’s letter in full:

Whiten et al. described Fuentes’ editorial as a “distorting treatment” of Darwin’s writing in Descent of Man.

As counterpoint to Fuentes’ points about Darwin’s racism and sexism, Whiten et al. wrote that,

On sexism, Darwin suggested that education of “reason and imagination” would erase mental sex differences (1, p. 329).

From that sentence, a reader might reason that Darwin wrote about how educating women could make them equal to men in mental powers. And, a reader might imagine that Darwin advocated for such a thing.

Darwin did neither in the cited passage which says,

In order that woman should reach the same standard as man, she ought, when nearly adult, to be trained to energy and perseverance, and to have her reason and imagination exercised to the highest point; and then she would probably transmit these qualities chiefly to her adult daughters. The whole body of women, however, could not be thus raised, unless during many generations the women who excelled in the above robust virtues were married, and produced offspring in larger numbers than other women. As before remarked with respect to bodily strength, although men do not now fight for the sake of obtaining wives, and this form of selection has passed away, yet they generally have to undergo, during manhood, a severe struggle in order to maintain themselves and their families; and this will tend to keep up or even increase their mental powers, and, as a consequence, the present inequality between the sexes. (1, p. 329)

There is no hope for women and, by the end, Darwin is back on about how men are superior and suggests that they may evolve to be even more so.

It took extraordinary imagination to read that passage from Descent of Man and present it casually in Darwin’s defense as Whiten et al. did.

Now that’s a distorting treatment.

Wow. That passage could be happily quoted by MRAs, anti-feminists, and the general mob of misogynists as perfectly compatible with their views. Do not get into a sparring match with Dr Dunsworth, she’ll cut you.

One other curious thing about that passage…Darwin at the time he wrote Descent of Man was, unfortunately, lacking in a good theory of inheritance and had stumbled into pangenesis — he was basically a Lamarckian. That’s what that bit about how an adult woman had to be trained to “energy and perseverance” so that she would similarly train her daughters, who over many generations might rise to be as smart as a man, if such clever daughters might succeed in producing as many children as those other silly, flighty women. It’s not only profoundly sexist, it’s bad evolutionary logic! He’s not touting the equality of women at all — he’s simply promoting his wrong ideas about the inheritance of acquired characters.

(I’ve written about this before, so this is old ground. Darwin had some even more blatantly sexist passages in the Descent of Man. What’s really going to “encourage a spectrum of anti-evolution voices” is this embarrassing idolatry.)

Good luck, NSC

Nonstampcollector has made an update video to let us know what he’s been up to lately. Congratulations on the familial expansion!

He also talks a bit about his departure from FtB and the deranged haters out there. He references his final post, and links to a copy archived elsewhere. Don’t bother to go there — it’s hosted on one of the lunatic anti-FtB wacko’s sites. I’ve put a copy here below the fold.

[Read more…]

Own goal!

I just wanted to share some fun tweets I got today. I was waiting in the airport, and some loon took offense at my criticisms of Pat Condell, and just had to vent…and managed to flame himself beautifully.

@J77Crazy
@patcondell @pzmyers the clown isn’t worth a response. #PZMyers is an embarrassment to white men everywhere. He is a faux feminist. #dhimmi

To “white men”? He’s a bit concerned with preserving the dignity of the White Race.

@J77Crazy
@pzmyers @patcondell You are disgusting. You represent every self loathing white in the world. You’re disgusting excuse for a white man

Gosh. Was that racist? I think it was.

@J77Crazy
@reggiereggie66 @pzmyers @patcondell anyone who sides with leftist theory, PZMyers BS or any other antiwhite parties are sick in the head.

For not being a racist, Pat Condell sure seems to attract some wild racists.

But — get ready for it — I agreed completely with this!

@J77Crazy
@pzmyers @patcondell calling Pat Condell a racist is like You saying you’re a feminist. #Fail

Yes, #Fail. Booyah!

A few other people commented on his meltdown, prompting, unsurprisingly, the sexist side of Mr @J77Crazy.

@J77Crazy
@DrJaneChi no one cares what you think. That’s why feminists and beta males hate everything. Go get some dick, you look like ya need it

See? Fun!


I should probably just block this guy because he’s evil and stupid, but he keeps coming back with jewels like this:

@J77Crazy
@thedxman @SpokesGay @pzmyers @patcondell no one here mentioned race, just a religion. You ppl are hopeless. Fuck all Whites like all of You

Derbyshire finds a new home

You knew he’d be just fine. After getting fired from the National Review for his ghastly racist views, he’s now been picked up by the openly racist VDARE. He’s come out now with a little post wondering about what label he should apply to his political camp. Before settling on calling his in-group the “dissident Right”, he considers this one:

Leaving aside the intended malice, I actually think "White Supremacist" is not bad semantically. White supremacy, in the sense of a society in which key decisions are made by white Europeans, is one of the better arrangements History has come up with. There have of course been some blots on the record, but I don’t see how it can be denied that net-net, white Europeans have made a better job of running fair and stable societies than has any other group.

Wait — he forgot to consider “The Racist Assholes” as a possibility. I think that’s the real winner.

Then he speaks the truth openly about the Republican party, or “Conservatism, Inc.” as he likes to call it. It’s one of the good things about Derbyshire: he’s so shameless that he isn’t at all hesitant about describing himself and his political pals in terms he finds copacetic, and the rest of the world finds contemptible.

I don’t mind the word “white” in either of those expressions. Conservatism, Inc. or otherwise, is a white people’s movement, a scattering of outliers notwithstanding.

Always has been, always will be. I have attended at least a hundred conservative gatherings, conferences, cruises, and jamborees: let me tell you, there ain’t too many raisins in that bun. I was in and out of the National Review offices for twelve years, and the only black person I saw there, other than when Herman Cain came calling, was Alex, the guy who runs the mail room. (Hey, Alex!)

This isn’t because conservatism is hostile to blacks and mestizos. Very much the contrary, especially in the case of Conservatism Inc. They fawn over the occasional nonwhite with a puppyish deference that fairly fogs the air with embarrassment. (Q: What do you call the one black guy at a gathering of 1,000 Republicans? A: “Mr. Chairman.”)

And why is this? It can’t be simply because conservatives are racist assholes, no…it’s got to be because minorities are parasites.

It’s just that conservative ideals like self-sufficiency and minimal dependence on government have no appeal to underperforming minorities—groups who, in the statistical generality, are short of the attributes that make for group success in a modern commercial nation.

Of what use would it be to them to embrace such ideals? They would end up even more decisively pooled at the bottom of society than they are currently.

A much better strategy for them is to ally with as many disaffected white and Asian subgroups as they can (homosexuals, feminists, dead-end labor unions), attain electoral majorities, and institute big redistributionist governments to give them make-work jobs and transfer wealth to them from successful groups.

Derbyshire has been fired from his more mainstream position, and he’s dying of cancer — he’s got nothing to lose. It’s quite bracing to see an old-school bigot open his yap and vomit forth his prejudices without the mealy-mouthed cliches all the others use so freely.

But still…he’s a racist, homophobic, bigoted asshole. I think he should even more freely embrace that label.