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October 26, 2007

Crunching on Dr. Watson’s Convictions

Rod Dreher lays out his thoughts about Dr. James Watson's comments on race and IQ in a long post at his Crunchy Con blog. It's good stuff. He concludes thusly:

In his fascinating study "Forbidden Knowledge," the late Roger Shattuck examines various kinds of knowledge considered taboo, including scientific knowledge. He concludes that the separation between pure science and applied science is impossible to maintain, given human nature. The best we can hope for, he says, is that scientists would adhere to a code of morality that would cause them to refuse to do the kind of research that could lead to moral catastrophe. As the Bible tells us, the pursuit of forbidden knowledge is the original sin, the original catastrophe from which all others follow. There is deep wisdom in that. We have not found a way yet to prevent man from seeking out all knowledge, nor for applying it.

Why doesn't this enormously important issue figure into American politics beyond the level of "bad Christians hate science"? Is it the childish American infatuation with optimism, and belief in our own essential goodness? It's not just a question for the left, either; what happens to the right's embrace of meritocracy when the overclass acquires control of the means of guided genetic reproduction, and games the system such that the working and the middle classes can't hope to compete?

We should be talking about this a lot more than we do.

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Comments

Lee

Thanks for the post, Allen.

Harking back to an earlier discussion of ours (but with vituperation directed not at you, but at former heroes of mine like Watson): Dumb-as-a-stump Christians like me, who believe that Genesis is literally true (oh, here come the rants), are also too stupid to believe that of one race of humans could evolve more intelligence than another race. We know that Darwin and his mob thought, and sometimes even admitted that they thought, that blacks and Jews weren't as evolved as Aryans (a conviction still largely held to in India, by the way). But us dimwits figger that their scientific theory will eventually be replaced by some other scientific theory, just as has been happening in all kinds of science all along. And maybe controversies like this one will provide the emotional impetus to speed things up.

You see, Shem and Ham and Japheth were *brothers* - equal in genetic background, and therefore equal in terms of development along the evolutionary scale (if there was sech a thing, which there ain't). Dark folks didn't eventually wise up and turn into light folks. Some day, we reckon, scientists will wise up and figger this out, too. And when they publish their newfangled theories, one more scientific justification for hatred and genocide will disappear, and society will go a little ways back toward the true brotherhood that was intended all along.

Because the Word of God is sharper than any two-edged helix.

Allen

Lee,

Thanks for the comment. Just to be clear, as a reminder to all, I don't find macroevolution convincing. Though I'm fine with Christians who do, so long as they credit the Creator. We've talked this one ad nauseum.

I guess I didn't really see Captain Crunch's main points as being about the merits of Watson's case. I saw Dreher's points - good ones, I thought - as being (1) that Big Academia will put political correctness before dispassionate scientific discussion [which is amusing considering the Galileo legend that they constantly recount in their accusations against Christians], and (2) that Watson's own convictions about how to apply his conclusions about genetic differences are utilitarian and anti-human, the logical conclusion of Big Academia's own "science is king & there is no god" mentality [a la The Abolition of Man].

It's those great points I was praising.

As for Watson's beliefs about macroevolution and DNA, I think that IF ONE BELIEVES IN MACROEVOLUTION (I don't), then his core conviction that there would very likely be differences in intelligence among races seems - actually - sensible. Since I find macroevolution utterly unconvincing, though, I (quite happily) personally find no reason to conclude as he does.

So, Lee, as usual - at least when you aren't shamelessly singing Gina's praises, as if you owe her enormous sums of money and are hoping she'll forgive at least some of your debts - I agree with you.

Seriously, Lee, if Gina's a bookie on the side and has got her goons chasing you down, I can help you out. Just tell me, man. Come clean!

Lee

Ah - I see, Allen, that I left a few things as perhaps too implicit. I was thinking that the kind of debacle faced by Watson would not be possible for a scientist who believed the Bible. (I have to chuckle a little when I hear Isaac Newton praised by scientists as a genius, except for that bit about him being religious.)

And as a former atheist macroevolutionist, I can assure you that DNA and evolution are thoroughly linked in many people's minds. But you're right, that's off-topic and we've done it to death already.

About Dreher's two points: (1) dispassionate scientific discussion that is politically incorrect will cost you and your employers grant money, even if you're a justifiably famous Nobel Prize winner. As a personal aside, it was considering the implications of the materialistic anti-God worldview that caused me to despair in college, and become receptive to Christianity. Because if you look at the true implications of that worldview, they're hopelessly pessimistic about mankind. But you're absolutely right; it's hypocritical to say that the Church should have immediately gotten behind Galileo when they themselves won't even defend Watson.

(2) That was more my point - most of the atrocities of the 20th Century and beyond were actually applications of Darwinism. It's Dostoyevsky's "If there is no God, then all things are permissible" applied to the kind of thoughts you can think. Unfortunately, if you think them as a scientist, you can't help but have them applied - you can't stuff the genie back in the bottle.

So (1) and (2) together put you in a real bind - do you want to say what you really conclude about (say) Oprah Winfrey's capabilities, or do you want her to keep signing checks?

Better, I say, to employ scientists who are also Christians, who can legitimately sidestep this entire dilemma.

As to the other matter, gotta say that I'm severely disappointed that "It" wasn't the showdown you've been promising but not delivering. And hey - as I recall, you and I first started interacting when I (with not enough history at The Point to firmly establish myself as friendly) went out on a limb and poked fun at her as "Pointifex Maxima" while she was having computer troubles that I then said Popular Mechanics suggested (ahem, cough) *men* wouldn't have. So since then I've really just been balancing the sheet a little. In all honesty, during moments of reflection I've wondered if she might happen to have an Uncle Guido with no neck but lots of "connections" and a long memory. I've also wondered how you continue to get your posts through the editing process, and how long I might be allowed to Pointifica-szzzt!!

Gina Dalfonzo

Darn it, Lee, I was trying to keep that quiet! Uncle Guido prefers to be brought out only as a last resort.

labrialumn

Of course, the original sin was not seeking forbidden knowledge, but choosing to rebel against God and chose for themselves what to call 'good' and what to call 'evil'.

Proverbs tells us that God watches over all knowledge, and also that 'it is the Glory of God to hide a thing, and the glory of kings to search it out', a picture of paedogogy.

Genetically speaking, humanity is remarkably non-diverse. Rather like the cheetah, we have very little variation. This is attributed to a genetic bottleneck about 80,000 e-years ago, when it is thought that there were perhaps 2,000 humans life. As we know, their time scale is off, and there were eight in all.

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