Asked and answered (Provocateurism, 1-5, marginalia)
[...] this thread is also about the [R]epublican war on science. [Liberal Fascism] contains a labored attempt to smear the left and science as propagators and promotors of Ã¢â‚¬Å“eugenicsÃ¢â‚¬Â.
Like I told Manzi, it seems the right is fighting [...] a doomed rearguard action against the combined forces of technological advances, academe, and cultural evolution.
Like Aldo said, judeo-xian ethics is a pretty frail bulwark against scientific progress.
Conservatism has often had a hard time with science. One obvious reason is that many scientific findings can create technological changes, which in turn can upend traditional social arrangements. Conservatives value these arrangements, and so resist the findings. Through history, some of this resistance has been foolish (opposition to the smallpox inoculation in the 18th century), and some of it laudable (resistance to forced sterilization of anyone judged to be a Ã¢â‚¬Å“probable potential parent of socially inadequate offspringÃ¢â‚¬Â in the early 20th century).
My question is, how will conservatives deal with the age of designer evolution?
Tecnology like this: nanomedicine, superbiology, biological anti-senescense, cybernetics, cloning, lifehacking, neurochemical augmentation, free market eugenics, designer babies, etc, etc.
You canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seem to handle plain old darwinian evolution.
– then, in a follow-up comment, she bolsters her point with a quote from Camile Paglia, along with this rather fraught quote from Dr. James Watson: “Should Hitler harm us for the next 200 years by saying that we cannot do genetics?”
My response(s), first to the Watson quote, and what nishi implies by introducing it into the discussion without commentary:
With all due respect to Dr Watson, nishi, who said “we” can’t “do genetics”? Seriously. Provide names. You have well over 500 comments in this thread to choose from, plus all the bioluddites you routinely rail against that make up Bush’s band of medievalist leech farmers and faith healers.
Show me that person or persons — with citations — and I will condemn them along with you.
But of course, these people, even if they exist (and some likely do, of course) are not at all representative of the current group with whom you are debating. So long as we’re talking about Liberal Fascism, and sci fi as a kind of cultural canary in a coal mine, why not deal with Wells himself: The Time Machine, eg.; or vivesection, a precursor to genetic engineering, in The Island of Dr Moreau, etc.?
Our civic system is built around the mechanism of checks and balances. You seem to want Science (capitalized to reflect your idea of those fields existing under the scientific umbrella as somehow transcendent and unimpeachable, like a godhead) to be left completely to its own devices — as if science was not something that is practiced by humans, who have been proven fallable, and whose hubris, be it social engineering schemes, economic schemes, or political schemes, has proven disastrous at times throughout history, particularly when change comes rapidly, and when it is built upon nothing but pure theory. Communism, for instance, has killed over 100 million people, all in an effort to perfect the common weal.
You have often railed against the second wave feminists, who use “social science” commingled with politicized “hard science” to affect curricula development and change, to the point where boys are now less likely to grow up and attend college, the competitive impulse has been dangerously undermined (if not forcibly castrated), and the ways boys learn, given a difference in both traditional socialization (which, importantly, was built upon certain physiological truisms about the sex) and verifiable physiological differences between the sexes, has been rendered largely ineffective — all in the name of some progressively asserted notion of “egalitarianism” that seeks equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity (all while ironically bracketing the effects of that outcome on the subjects it is striving to “save”).
This is science acting as social engineer — with “experts” and “professionals” inside the academy leading the charge. The problem is, the academy has become corrupted, “science” has become politicized and opportunistic (grant money for “diversity”? Sure, we can come up with some program for that!) — and you wonder how anyone here can question the BRIGHT LIGHT OF SCIENCE THAT SHALL BRING US THAT PROGRESSIVE UTOPIA YOU SO EVIDENTLY CRAVE!
Your problem, nishi, is that you don’t recognize that this has all been tried before. Which is the reason for introducing eugenics into this discussion. It is not to smear current progressives with the taint of racism: as I said elsewhere, I think “racialism” would have been the more appropriate term for Jonah to use, simply because it is better in keeping with the zeitgeist he is describing, and it carries less of a value judgment. (Though, don’t get me wrong: there were plenty of racists happy to engage in scientific racialism); instead, it is to highlight a certain kind of thinking that animates the progressive ideology — one that is totalitarian and fascist, terms that progressives were at one point quite comfortable with, given that such moments of political evolution — of “progress” — signaled an end to messy classical liberalism, and a rise of the elite leader, the technocrat, and the social scientist to fix the “problems” created by the chaos of democracy.
That many progressives now run from those labels, given the subsequent disrepute they’ve come under as a result of their excesses during earlier periods in history — opting instead to call themselves “liberals” in a semantic coup that has further problematized any understanding of the political ideology that underlies it (particularly on the progressive end of the “liberal” spectrum, which, as I’ve pointed out, is almost by definition based around illiberal principles and, by political extension, illiberal programs) — is just so much obfuscation. Meanwhile, the project continues apace — albeit, thanks to our Constitution (ever under seige) and American exceptionalism, it manifests itself in the guise of a velvet revolution. Hence, the happy face on the cover of Jonah’s book. Does this mean I believe judeo-Christian ethics alone are the only (or even preferable) bulwark against progressive imperatives?
No. As I wrote earlier in response to that very question, I believe the only way to beat back what is now so insinuated in our very thinking is to reclaim language, specifically, to reclaim what it is we think we are doing when we interpret.
There is no “war on science” happening here, among readers of this site. There may be a mistrust of scientism Ã¢â‚¬â€ and AGW-worship as dictated policy despite a decided lack of concrete evidence has the effect of creating skeptics Ã¢â‚¬â€ but there are plenty of people here who are very much dedicated to science and the scientific method, me chief among them.
There is also no Republican war on academics being fought here. There is, however, a classical liberal rejection of much of what passes for “education” inside the current academy, which is decidedly homogeneous in the Humanities and Social Sciences, and which has shrugged off its mission of promoting intellectualism and the free exchange of ideas in an attempt at becoming a self-perpetuating echo chamber and protector of the (political and politicized) status quo, something that the “radicals” of the sixties and early seventies fought hard to attain. If you get a chance, watch E. C. MaloneyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Indoctrinate U. Or ask me to regale you with stories from my own time in the academy.
In the culture wars, I have fought adamantly against social conservativism, because many of the solutions to Ã¢â‚¬Å“problemsÃ¢â‚¬Â promoted by social conservatives smack of nannystatism just as surely as do smoking bans, Twinkie taxes, et al. “Decency” statutes for TV, Schiavo’s Law, banning Kid Rock from the conservative big tent… all mistakes, in my opinion.
Again, I always put individual freedom first Ã¢â‚¬â€ which is why I remain reluctantly pro-choice, despite my desire to see restrictions placed on abortion that keep in line with advances in science.
Do I think aborting an 8-month, fully-formed fetus is barbaric? Of course. That Obama doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t (or rather, that he is unwilling to take that stand legislatively) is reprehensible, so far as IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m concerned. Partial birth abortion, once the fetus is viable and can be put up for adoption or turned over to a willing father, is inexcusable. Surely it is no more Ã¢â‚¬Å“invasiveÃ¢â‚¬Â at that point to have the child than it is to have it removed and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s brains sucked out.
You can continue to caricature the positions of the commenters here, many of whom Ã¢â‚¬â€ though religious Ã¢â‚¬â€ are about as far away from screaming fundies as you are. Similarly, you can continue advancing your cause of enforced dogmatism, and promoting an academic ethos that mystifies alternative ideas rather than taking the time to teach them properly, which would have the net effect of doing precisely what youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d like to see happen: separating science from philosophy. I have noted that I believe IDT is bogus science. But as a metaphysical question regarding first causes, it is perfectly “reasonable” — and requires no more a leap of faith than does pure materialism.
I advocated teaching about the field of IDT in science classes because I think it creates the perfect opportunity to show how IDT and evolution (again, who here disputes that on religious grounds? — me, I’m a Dawkins guy) can live together comfortably. It also provides the opportunity for object lessons in Scientific Method, defining “theory” as it pertains to science (rather than its less specific and more colloquial usage), and illustrating where metaphysics and science break — with science unconcerned with questions that are, by their very nature, unaswerable.
But youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d rather impose your will than Ã¢â‚¬Å“humorÃ¢â‚¬Â the godbotherers, I guess. Because you know whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s best. That, my friend, is arrogance and hubris. And it is precisely what puts some people off science to begin with — and it is, though not exclusive to “progressivism,” part of the historical baggage modern progressivism totes around like fresh pairs of undies.
Your assumption is that people canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t learn. Or maybe it’s just certain people can’t learn, or that teaching them takes too long when you can simply decree. Human history, however, favors the gradual, considered change, and human freedom favors the classical liberal model.
And that is what this entire conversation is about.
Discuss at you leisure.