The Truth about Evolution

Liberals proudly proclaim their abiding faith in evolution and deride those who disagree. In typical liberal fashion, however, most neglect the consequences of what they say they believe. As a science-loving conservative, I believe evolution is the best explanation for life today AND I accept what that means.

I have been reading an excellent book called Before the Dawn. It discusses the evidence of evolution contained in the human genome. I recommend the book. It is one of many of that sort available. Work with the human genome is confirming many theories and questioning other, but it is deepening the understanding of human evolution. Let’s consider some of the consequences.

The first consequence is the nature of HUMAN nature. Liberals are usually a little uncomfortable with the idea of human nature and the limits it imposes on their schemes to perfect society. Some behaviors are more natural than others. We have a nature propensity to learn to talk. Doing higher math takes specific learning. We inherited other talents and propensities. We have propensities toward violence, promiscuity and male dominance. Back the Pleistocene, these were things that made our ancestors successful in passing their genetic material into the next generation. The peaceful nice guys got killed (and maybe eaten) by their less enlightened neighbors, who probably also carried off the woman after murdering the male children. As Steven Pinker writes in The Blank Slate, this does not mean we have to behave in these ways, but we need to recognize the facts. Civilization and learning helps us overcome the legacy of nature, but we do have to overcome it.

There is such a thing as human nature & it is not always a good thing. We are not blank slates. There is no such think as a noble savage. Humans in the natural state are just savages, w/o the modifier. Our ancestors, like more recent savage populations, were truly nasty. Their wars were not as dramatic as those made possible by our improved technologies and organization, but they were constant. If war never stops, lots of people get killed.

Anthropologists up until recently sometimes thought hunter gather societies were peaceful. The reason was twofold. The first was that by the time anthropologists got there, the hunter gatherer societies were subjugated, tamed by colonial powers or their successor states that established a kind of law and order or at least a monopoly of violence. The other reason was more prosaic. Anthropologists were not paying attention and they were projecting their desire to find the noble savages or peaceful people as alternatives to what they disliked in modern society. But a closer examination has shown that more primitive societies are neither peaceful nor harmonious. Fights among Khoisan in southern Africa or warlike hunter gatherer peoples of New Guinea are deadly and frequent. They are just doing what comes naturally. Unfortunately, violence and genocide make evolutionary sense. Leaving an enemy in a position to take revenge is dangerous. Annihilation is the safer bet and taking the women of child bearing age helps ensure the victor’s genetic dominance. It is only civilization that makes cooperation with other societies worthwhile.

A second salient point about evolution is that it didn’t end 37,000 years ago. To the extent that behaviors are genetically influenced, intelligence is heritable and even lifestyle preferences are to some extent inborn, the number of children each individual contributes to the next generation determines the future of the human race. Some lifestyle choices may begin to disappear. Childless people are disqualifying themselves. Evolution is not necessarily the survival of the best & brightest, just those who manage to produce the most surviving offspring. The man who fathers a dozen kids has a bigger slice of the future pie, no matter how he manages that accomplishment or what else he accomplishes.

Anyway, I find it ironic that liberals have become such proponents of evolution. Liberals want to remake society. They usually are unenthusiastic about talk of limitations based on human nature and they dislike the idea of propensity toward innate behaviors that make people fundamentally and inalterably unequal. Their embrace of evolution is touching, but I think it is generally insincere. They use it in the historical sense (i.e. something that was, but no longer is) and they like to use it pound conservatives w/o accepting much of what it implies. They demand a profession of faith from others, but reject the consequences for their own ideas and goals.

So let’s get to the bottom line re evolution. It is a practical and useful theory. The process is still going on. (Freakonomics has an interesting take on evolution in today’s society, although he doesn’t call it evolution. The author postulates that Roe v Wade was a factor in the declining crime rate of the 1990s, as many of the future criminals were removed from the population before even being born. How would society be affected after several generations of this?) It gives us the propensity toward some of things (i.e. violence, rape, love of fatty foods) that are very bad in the modern context. In fact, we could almost call it the original sin. Civilization and culture are ways we overcome the Pleistocene legacy. But the game is not over. We need to be on guard against the resurgence of the hereditary evil We need strong institutions to properly channel human behavior and should be careful before we make fundamental changes. It is not a very liberal world view.

Posted by Jack at June 17, 2007 10:29 PM
Comments
Comment #223370

Nice discussion except for the sweeping and simplistic generalizations about liberals. Is everything to be viewed through a political lens? I know this is a political blog, but for my part it’s fine with me to have an occasional post without the obligatory jabs — because now we’re going to have posts reminding us of the rejection of evolution by many (most?) conservatives. Bleh.

Regardless, there is a contradiction here. You speak of human evolution and then the inherent limitations of human nature. Human nature presumably can evolve too. It appears that if we are going to thrive in the next few hundred years, we will have to learn how to manage this planet and ourselves. Capitalism will have to be seen as a tool and not the end-all. At any rate, you seem to be implying that liberals don’t want strong institutions.

Jack, in the future, historians will find quaint the big fuss we make about the very minor differences between this era’s liberals and conservatives, in much the same way we now find quaint the ancient quarrel between the dyophysites and monophysites.

Posted by: Gerrold at June 17, 2007 11:39 PM
Comment #223372

I sort of agree with Gerrold about this being something that doesn’t break down so simply into “liberal” vs. “conservative.”

According to this recent poll, 91% of Americans believe in God, and almost half reject the theory of evolution.

Aside from the obvious fact that 91% vs. 9% is not the ratio of conservatives to liberals, it’s also clear that many who believe in a creator also believe in evolution.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at June 17, 2007 11:58 PM
Comment #223373

Gerrold

I write for this political blog thing. I have to fit everything into that mold.

Read “Before the Dawn”. He postulates that human nature has indeed changed. Our earlier ancestors were anatomically but not behaviorally human and attributes the differences to genetic changes. We have become much more docile than our wild relatives. They were just too murderous and aggressive to live in close proximity to large numbers of their fellow humans.

I agree that liberal and conservative will make little sense in the future. You really cannot project the current arguments back beyond around 25 years. The past is a different country and the future will be too. But we live today.

Posted by: Jack at June 18, 2007 12:03 AM
Comment #223374

I read a while back how the reason why conservatism has now become so popular compared to say 40 years ago actually might be because liberals in previous decades had much less children in general than conservatives. During world war II politics had little influence on this, which may explain certain movements in the 60s and 70s. However later with the rise of feminism, birth control methods, and the like many people considered more liberal had less children. Conservatives particularly religious fundamentalists had many more. It’s a demographic shift. Again this isn’t necessarily the only or even primary reason, but it might explain in part student movements in the 60s and 70s and why there’s nothing of the sort now.

Posted by: josh at June 18, 2007 1:23 AM
Comment #223383

Jack,

I think people from all over the spectrum have trouble accepting the consequences of the theory of evolution. We all have a notion, for example, of who the best or most fit people are (even if we avoid a loaded term like “most fit”). Evolution has a simple answer though: whoever has the most kids who survive long enough to reproduce.

That’s it. Full stop. End of story. If an unemployed gang-banger has more kids than Einstein, then he proved himself to be more fit.

(I look back and see you already made this point, but I think it deserves emphasis.)

And conservatives are certainly committed to a notion of human nature, particularly the religious right. Anything besides the so-called traditional nuclear family is “unnatural”. You have can’t have a narrow notion of “family values” without the idea of human nature as a foundation.

Anyway, I find it ironic that liberals have become such proponents of evolution.

Yeah, it’s funny how we can be swayed by scientific evidence. ;)

We have propensities toward violence, promiscuity and male dominance.

There is more controversy on these points than you acknowledge.

Posted by: Woody at June 18, 2007 8:02 AM
Comment #223384

WOody

I do not think liberals are swayed by the science. My point is that they profess faith in evolution w/o accepting many of its implications.

Re controversy re violence etc, dislike and PC contraversy, yes. Scientific controversy, no. People just do not like the idea. You said it yourself re the gang banger. What are their characteristics? It is precisely because of our propensities that we have to make laws against many of these things. We do not need laws to outlaw the intense study of calculus or eating of brocolli.

Posted by: Jack at June 18, 2007 8:08 AM
Comment #223385
Scientific controversy, no.

Yes, scientific controversy.

Fine semantic point: By “gang-banger” I just meant member of a gang, nothing more.

Posted by: Woody at June 18, 2007 9:07 AM
Comment #223386

Jack,

I read this a second time to try to understand exactly what you claim “liberals” (as opposed to everyone else) don’t understand. You’re revisiting Nature vs. Nurture, but not claiming that Nature alone determines human behavior. Therefore to find a point of contention, you must claim that liberals don’t understand human nature. Behind this, I think, is implied criticism of communism (and therefore the left) insofar as it had an optimistic view of human nature. Meanwhile, the Right, which for the sake of the scheme you are sketching, better understands human nature because it promotes some sort of survival of the fittest through capitalism. Yet all that is undermined by the observation you make that breeders pass on their genes, and we know that the more prosperous a people are in our society, the less the breed.

Meanwhile, the futurists will tell you that the Nature that is going to determine human evolution is not the environment so much as it humans themselves. We’ve already taken the genie out of the bottle on that, and in the decades and centuries to come, the human hand in manipulating its genetic structure will dominate.

At any rate, I think you have to stretch things a bit thin to create the political conflict you think you need for this blog ;)

Posted by: Gerrold at June 18, 2007 10:00 AM
Comment #223387

I gotta say, it warms my heart to see a post like this on the right side of this site. I myself may be as blue as blue can be, but I have always felt that evolution points toward a Creator, not away. Unfortunately, evolution has become one of the litmus tests of one’s political affiliation. “Oh, you’re pro-choice? You must vote Democrat! Oh, you own a gun? You must vote Republican! Oh, you believe in evolution? You must….” It’s good to see someone breaking that mold.

So, with this in mind, isn’t this post a touch hypocritical? Basically, you are saying “hey look at me, believing in evolution, yet still conservative!” and yet you assume that everyone on the Left fits neatly into the very same kind of molds that you yourself have broken out of. Yes, I am pro-choice, anti-gun, pro-gay-marriage, anti-war, and as far from Christian as possible while still believing in a Creator that gives a damn about us, that does not mean that I am raising my children to be hedonistic, selfish jerks. We, as sentient creatures, now have the ability to take part in our evolution as a species, by crafting our institutions to fight against all of the disfunctional tendencies that made our ancestors evolutionarily fit, and we both agree on this I believe. I simply don’t see how conservative structures would be inherently better at doing so than liberal ones.

L

Posted by: leatherankh at June 18, 2007 10:03 AM
Comment #223389

Jack

Anyone who truly understands and believes in evolution realizes that it is an ongoing and unending path. We all still have savage tendencies stored away in our memory banks. Many still exhibit those tendencies thru what are today considered immoral behaviors depending on what society one may inhabit at the time. We all still function from one basic instinct. The desire to survive. In the end we all do what we feel necesary to insure survival. This is human nature at its root level. It does not matter if one is liberal or conservative, we all have the same basic root tendencies. How one manages those tendencies in todays world is totally dependant on the evolution of lifestyle (morals) within their respective boundaries. It is the evolution of the shaping and refinement of morals which allows us to live together in a mostly peaceful harmony instead of as savage beasts who view all others as a threat to our survival. To this end I have no idea why anyone who believes in scientific evolution, be them liberal or conservative, would think that evolution ended 37000 years ago.

As I see it the only real controversy is religion based. And that controversy is related to whether or not one believes in a divine creator or not. It is my opinion that the christian religion is nothing more than an evolution of a taught lifestyle created and manipulated over the centuries to teach man how to live together as peacefully as possible. Jesus was a simple fisherman who had a message of peace, love, respect for and caring for all people. He died because his message was controversial, adversarial, and contradictary to the good of the powers in rule at the time. The evolution of his message over the centuries to that of a divine and loving god who accepts all that are willing to believe is nothing more than the means to an end result. The idea of an after life was a means to get people to believe in his message and take it to heart. As a result we have a religion based evolution of moral values which is imo a very good thing. My guess is that this message will continue to evolve as needed over the millenia as is needed by man in order to insure our survival as human beings because of our most basic instincts.

I do not think that the moral values of a liberal or conservative are so different that one in particular will have any great effect on the evolution of human nature. We all recognize and understand that in the end the root compulsion to survive is what truly drives our motivations.

Posted by: ILdem at June 18, 2007 10:41 AM
Comment #223390

Jack,

As usual, you are using convoluted logic to condemn liberals when the facts point the other way. You apparently believe that a rational person has to accept the theory of evolution. I think we can all agree that a liberal is more likely to accept the theory of evolution than a conservative. (If I’m wrong, show me the evidence!)

It would seem that the evidence would point toward liberals being more rational than conservatives, at least on this front. So you have to wiggle out of this difficulty by somehow arguing that liberals don’t really believe in evolution. This is where you argument falls apart, because you can’t really back up your claim.

Your best argument is that liberals “want to remake society”, but virtually everybody does! Show me a book by a conservative saying that everything is just fine how it is. Conservatives are constantly complaining about how the world is going to hell in a hand basket.

Whatever is happening now is the result of evolution. I suppose you could argue that anyone who rejects the status quo rejects evolution, but then you are condemning virtually all of us.

We need strong institutions to properly channel human behavior (1) and should be careful before we make fundamental changes (2). It is not a very liberal world view.

The first part is a liberal world view, or at least one kind (statist vs libertarian). The second part is a truism.

Posted by: Woody Mena at June 18, 2007 12:00 PM
Comment #223392

Jack,

“Liberals want to remake society. They usually are unenthusiastic about talk of limitations based on human nature and they dislike the idea of propensity toward innate behaviors that make people fundamentally and inalterably unequal.”

I think that rather than remaking society, “liberals” would prefer that society “evolve”. The problem is that some liberals would have society evolve faster than is natural.
There are no limits to human nature, other than those that are learned. Humans are capable of anything.
Just how many of even our most “enlightened” ancestors could accept the reality of the world as we know it today?
Surely, a few would be able to grasp our societal evolution, and accept it outright. Most, would question the validity of the new reality, and a few would reject it as the work of evil powers.

Humankind has made great leaps forward in even the last hundred years, and not just through scientific discovery.
Society no longer views blacks as “less than”.
Maybe, in another hundred years, society will be able to accept those that are “less than” today.

And if that isn’t evolution, I don’t know what is.

Posted by: Rocky at June 18, 2007 12:23 PM
Comment #223395

We do not know all the possibilities inherent in our genetic predispositions. Genetics is a complex, emergent subject, and the way it can lead somebody to interact with their environment and their education is incredibility difficult to predict. We do not know the full extent of the gifts we hold, nor the curses we could suffer as well.

Genetics is not itself a blank slate, but instead plays out in a complex environment, with the development that genetics guides greatly effected by it. Additionally, after Birth, every human being learns a complex language, culture, and set of symbolic codes. The individual circumstances of our development and education can have a large effect on what we become and continue to become as adults.

It’s fairly silly to talk about lifestyle choices being weeded out by evolution, I feel, since many of those choices emerge from culture as much as anything else. Even when genetics strongly influences a trait, the trait itself is not necessarily devoid of survival value in some other aspect. Some genetically heritable aspects of personality and neural function can show different faces, positive and negative, at different times. Additionally, some genetic predispositions are the result of a mix of genetic characteristics which apart from one another, in the parents, might not be harmful. Autism, which has a strong genetic component, not only occurs with parents who are relatively normal, but includes traits that apart from others might be positive.

It’s useful to look at genetic predispositions in intelligence by understanding that we have a world of possible traits in the population, a mix whose results can be very unpredictable, and that many different variations on the imaginary stereotype we have of normal human beings are possible. It’s also useful to not that the complexities of culture can add a wealth of changes and differences on top of that.

I get the feeling that many Social Darwinists would use the theory of evolution to justify their elitists sensibilities about genetic potential, to justify their hogging of the top spots. In truth though, potential in a person is a much more mysterious and difficult thing to predict.

As Liberal, this informs my politics this way: first we cannot say what people’s potential will be, so we stand to waste a whole bunch of it, if we only define people by the potential we perceive, or if we fail to open the doors of that potential for enough people. Public education is therefore a big priority. Additionally, such a model of human intellect precludes the notion that a one-size fits-all attitudet towards education will work. It is less important to standardize education than to allow teachers to shape their efforts to fit the needs of their students.

Additionally, we must not fall into the trap of believing that simply by having more children, a person is more likely to have an effect on the gene pool. It’s not whether you have a bunch of children, its whether those children survive to be adults that bear their own offspring. Moreover, we have to be careful about making assumptions about what evolution will bring about in response to changes on a historical scale. The wiping out of a generation, or the concentration of a population in an isolated area might have an effect on the genetics, but short of that, the shift in the gene pool tends to be rather slow. The notion that abortion is weeding out the criminals in an evolutionary sense is therefore pretty dubious. The loss of the good or bad “specimens” would likely be so indiscriminate and arbitrary as to have little overall effect on the gene pool. As long as a person has even one child, and that child has one as well, a persons bloodline persists. If one of those children has an excellent trait that improves survival, that change will have the chance to wash over the gene pool, and those who lack the gene, however large their families are now, may not be future beneficiaries of natural selection’s favor.

Another thing is, and this kind of ties in to some of what I say above, is that while people are inequal in their gifts, we can’t necessarily at first glance know what those inequalities are. Just because somebody is rich doesn’t mean they are superior specimens. Additionally, we never know what the different mixes of genetics will come up with. We don’t know the things that make one person better than another at certain things, until those qualities show up.

Additionally, we rarely deal with people who are across-the-board perfect. Often enough, we’re dealing with people who have a mix of personality traits, positive, negative, and ambiguous.

There are so many ways in which human potential can be unpredictable, that it’s silly to not give as many people a shot at being the best they can be as we can. America’s potential is not concentrated in any one place, nor can simply improve that potential by discriminating against one group or another. America has become great because more people have a chance to explore their potential than ever before. The more we cling to old elitists notions of people’s quality, the more we’ll miss out on that.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 18, 2007 1:16 PM
Comment #223403
Anyway, I find it ironic that liberals have become such proponents of evolution. Liberals want to remake society. They usually are unenthusiastic about talk of limitations based on human nature and they dislike the idea of propensity toward innate behaviors that make people fundamentally and inalterably unequal. Their embrace of evolution is touching, but I think it is generally insincere. They use it in the historical sense (i.e. something that was, but no longer is) and they like to use it pound conservatives w/o accepting much of what it implies. They demand a profession of faith from others, but reject the consequences for their own ideas and goals.

What a bunch of hogwash! First, no one that accepts the theory of evolution believes that it no longer exists. But one thing you don’t seem to take in consideration is how technology, modern medicine and other factors affects and limits natural selection. Evolution as far as man is concerned, will not have the same affect as it had in the past.

No liberal believes we are all equal in our abilities. But we do believe in equal opportunities. For too long institutionalized inequities existed that favored some over others. Despite the right’s insistent that these barriers do not exist, they are still self evident in our society.

As far as limitations based on human nature goes. Human nature at least in part is determined by our genetic makeup and as you alluded to, it is also partly determined by nature. Our human nature is like our math skills, we are individually limited by our genetics but we all have a maximum potential we can achieve. To state that liberals are uncomfortable to talk about this is baloney. On the contrary, that is why we focus on inequities that others in our society would like to propagate.

As Martin Luther King said:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.


Posted by: Cube at June 18, 2007 6:09 PM
Comment #223409

Jack,

It seems to me that those who insist on DEFINING God in human terms, those who believe the Bible is literally a truth, have chosen a FINITE and Shallow God to believe in.

Not the God I believe and got to a point of faith in as a RESULT of the Bible.

I find the point of view in your *post* to be tiresome, shallow and infantile.

Ultimately, such shallow faith has the result of making the world a WORSE place. It is a disrespect to God’s creation.

Posted by: RGF at June 18, 2007 8:16 PM
Comment #223414

Jack, I forgot to the mention this before, but you know that the theory that abortion reduces crime has come under considerable attack by reputable economists and statisticians who’ve analyzed the data and methodology used in the various studies (Levitt wasn’t the first to make the claim). I don’t have a horse in this race, but I’d think social conservatives, at least, would like to know the theory has serious challengers.

Posted by: Gerrold at June 18, 2007 9:12 PM
Comment #223415

Jack,

You may find this hard to believe, but you do NOT define LIBERAL in any ral or valid way except with respect to that which is contained in your OWN MIND!

Posted by: RGF at June 18, 2007 9:35 PM
Comment #223418

RGF

You are right that I probably do not have a very clear definition of liberal, but it is certainly as clear as the definition the blue side has of conservative. For example, did I ever give you any reason to think I believe the Bible is literally true … or even metaphorically. It is useful wisdom. I expect your definition of conservative includes fundamentalism. That probably covers only around a quarter of the movement.

The dictionary definition of liberal does not describe the current American version. Liberal in the original sense is more like what we would call libertarian these days and in Europe the neo-liberals are close to what we call neo conservatives in the U.S.

This is what I think a liberal is in the U.S. Liberals favor government solutions to social problems. They are concerned with equality and are distrustful of business. Ever since the 1970s liberals have been soft on defense. They favor justice over liberty and promote the notion of group rights. The reason I mention liberals in the evolution debate is that in the nature and nurture debate, they come down strongly on the nurture side.

Please tell me in what ways you disagree with my definition.

Gerrold

The Freakonomics idea on abortion is just a notion. I think it makes some sense. Abortions tend to be more common among poor and less educated people who also supply a greater proportion of the habitual criminal population. Nobody has successfully explained the drop in crime that started in the early 1990s. This is just one theory.

Posted by: Jack at June 18, 2007 10:52 PM
Comment #223446

Jack-
Try rising economic prosperity. It’s a more immediate factor, and what’s more, better grounded in scientific theory.

Like I said before, the genetic heritability of intelligence is no simple matter, nor are many of the other traits of cognitive function. Even if abortion did favor (or rather disfavor) those individuals who were more prone to violence, less intelligent, etc, the presence of the supposedly defective genes and their associated traits, which is what evolution would act upon, would not likely be weeded out of the population with sufficient speed to create such an effect.

Evolution takes more than a couple generations to work. What’s more, the character of natural selection is not so simple as a divide between negative traits and positive ones.

An Autistic’s strong focus and perception of small details can be an asset or a liability depending on the situation. Same thing for a ADHD suffer’s scatterbrained focus and tendency to gloss. Aggression in the service of bloodshed is not well encouraged in this society under normal circumstances. In the service of politics or business, though, that’s another matter. As in nature, there are niches, and reasons why people we might consider defective nonetheless prosper, even do so in excess of the rest of us. The joke about nerds, many who display Aspergers Syndrome like personality types, is that you shouldn’t mistreat them because someday they might be your boss.

My feeling about the way that evolution will act on the human mind is that it will happen over the generations, and it will primarily be about the optimization of the general system to whatever challenge remains constant over the next few tens of thousands of years.

It will not happen, though, as a result of the largely random selection imposed by a single generation’s worth of legalized abortion.

In science, not every explanation that makes sense is necessarily true. That’s the whole point of science: to get past what just makes sense, to what both makes sense, and corresponds to something real.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 19, 2007 9:07 AM
Comment #223510

Stephen

The abortion theory was not evolutionary. It is just the quick payoff that comes from getting rid of criminals.

Abortion is not random. It is more common among the poor and uneducated and by definition every aborted baby is unwanted by the mother. The theory just stated that abortions tend to eliminate unwanted babies, who are more likely to become criminals or troubled.

I did not know you were a Reagan fan. Evidently the economic growth of the 1980s had that effect so that by the early 1990s the lucky generation had grown up.

Posted by: Jack at June 19, 2007 9:17 PM
Comment #223544

Jack-
A person is not a criminal until they act. Abortion doesn’t get rid of criminals.

To a certain extent, abortions are unwanted children, but that can mean anything from an uncertain mother in bad economic straits who might nonetheless love the child, to the prototypical woman just deciding she doesn’t want it. There are so many variations and ways in which one’s life could develop that the abortion theory of reduced crime is practically useless as an explanation.

As for Reagan? There are many factors to economic growth and downturn. a President can be one of them, but he is not everything. We can say that development of advanced technology, among other things, play major roles.

It’s funny: as much as Republicans like to claim that the free market brings prosperity, they constantly credit their politicians, with the great state of business. Given all the favorable regulations, subsidies and tax breaks that the Republicans gave business, it’s difficult to think that these contradictions can be resolved without admitting one or the other wasn’t true.

If so, Republican’s approach to the market is not only hypocritical, it is also harmful, in that the party takes such an active interest in manipulating the economy.

As a Democrat, I believe that the government’s intervention in these matters, while not arbitrary, should be largely regulatory, and largely aimed towards serving public priorities, public needs. We don’t need all these messes of tax breaks. We need Government to govern, to lay down rules, protect the public. We don’t need it to line the pockets and protect the interests of those who already have plenty of power to do so on their own.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 20, 2007 8:06 AM
Comment #223555

Jack,

You’d probably enjoy Doris Lessing’s The Fifth Child. It posits that some maladjusted individuals who end up belonging to primitive gang/strong man groups are evolutionary throwbacks. Their responses and behaviors were suited for certain types early (or almost pre-cultural) groups, but not for today. It’s fiction, of course, but disturbing speculation.

I made the mistake once of giving it to a pregnant woman, eep.

Posted by: Gerrold at June 20, 2007 10:45 AM
Comment #223576
Evolution is not necessarily the survival of the best & brightest, just those who manage to produce the most surviving offspring.

The “best & brightest” has no means from nature point of view. Nothing have.
Only human tries to give means to everything, often mixing with moral values. When he fail to, he usually resort to an higher level power supposedly knowing the means of everything but, ironically ;-) don’t want to share it with us!

Nature is meaningless, it’s only nature and evolution theory is the way life both survives thru reproduction *and* change thru adaptation, spontaneous or driven.

This being said, human by its nature is conscious of his mortal condition since long. Which changes many things regarding human evolution. Not everything survive human thru genes and natural selection for example. Transmission of knowledge between generations is far more developed in human specie than any other. We can compensate natural inequality, and we do it more and more. How many not-yet-mature fetuses survives these days when 100 years ago none would? For every abortion today, how many babies live when they will have not in the past?

Still, evolution does apply to human like any living species. But human knows more about its own nature than others species. It allows him to accelerate its own evolution and, in some case, even control part of it.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at June 20, 2007 4:59 PM
Comment #223577
We need to be on guard against the resurgence of the hereditary evil We need strong institutions to properly channel human behavior and should be careful before we make fundamental changes. It is not a very liberal world view.

Indeed. It looks more like eugenics.

A liberal world view would be about strong institutions to properly balance everyone opportunities, seeking universal human rights to freedom, dignity and equity before the laws of men.

Since when conservatism include actively forcing human being change!? What happened to the let-live conservatives crowd?!

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at June 20, 2007 5:11 PM
Comment #223599

Actually, evolution and creationism is very much alike; just in reverse with the focus on a different being as superior in nature.

Creationists believe that God created Man in their highest form without sin and even in “His” own words “good”! Through Man’s attempt to evolve into an even higher form, being deceived within hinself, he lost his perfect state of communion with God, the Creator of all things, and became like an animal with very little regard for anything other than survival. His continual denial of his own unrighteousness, imperfection, and selfishness, and its underlying downward spiral, led him to believe that once again he can attain a higher state, (only in and of himself). Thus, the adoption of the Theory of Evolution. Creationists are incomplete unless they also believe the only way to achieve man’s highest form once again is to confess his own unrighteousness, imperfections, and selfishness before God, and to seek a higher relationship with Him. All the while trusting that God will restore him to the position for which he was created.

Evolutionists believe that Man began as an animal; that he has evolved into Man through millions of years of species change. They believe that he is still evolving in an upward fashion, getting continually better, higher, and more capable of controlling his environment, present and future world events, and especially those who are less civilized, (lower on the evolutionary scale). Evolution is a theory that man can one day evolve to achieve a utopia on Earth in and of himself. And then what? He simply dies and is forgotten without any guarantee that the next generation or future generations will be superior to his generation, much like the fate of their dinosaurs.

JD

Posted by: JD at June 20, 2007 10:05 PM
Comment #223606
Evolution is a theory that man can one day evolve to achieve a utopia on Earth in and of himself.

Errr…. No. Evolution says no such thing at all. Evolution describes what has happened in the past, and what is still happening in the present. It makes no guesses to the result of future evolution. After all, evolution is how the genetic identity of a species changes over the generations due to changes in the environment and the creation of new niches.

Your idea here is just a nice little straw man that helps you ignore the reality of what Evolution says to be able to create invalid and meaningless comparisons. Have fun.

Posted by: LawnBoy at June 20, 2007 11:08 PM
Comment #223622

Stephen

Re Reagan

I believe that the natural state of the economy is growth. Absent wars, distrubances or too much interference from the authorities, the people will do just fine over the long run if the market economy (including rule of law, reasonable regulation and the market mechanism) is allowed to function. Before RR, we had drifted into a regime where we began to regulate too much and tax too highly. Reagan changed that and freed the economy and the people to do what they do best. That is what I credit him with doing. I agree that he did not create the strong economy. No politician can do that. He helped create the conditions that allowed it.

Re the abortion theory, it is (like evolution) statistical. Certain types of people produce disproportionate numbers of criminals. These same people tend to have more abortions. Not every child of a drug addict, single mother turns out bad, but the chances are greater. In fact, children of single mothers (forget the other problems) are about twice as likely to become criminals. So to the extend you lower their number, by whatever means, it is likely to lower the crime rate.

I do not advocate that as a public policy, but Roe v Wade has created that situation. Anybody who does not oppose abortion should welcome this result.

Posted by: Jack at June 21, 2007 7:59 AM
Comment #223678

Nicholas Wade, author of “Before the Dawn” is not a scientist and has scarcely more than a layman’s understanding of the biological principles he seeks to address in his book. If you want to know about evolution why not start by reading the book by the most prominent author on the subject—Charles Darwin’s “The Origin of Species.”

“Before the Dawn” is no doubt an entertaining read, but as a source of scientific knowledge it is hardly credible. Much like the above article, it is ONE writer’s attempt to synthesize complex theories from multiple disciplines—human biology, anthropology, sociology, etc. (science and politics in the case of the above article)—theories still debated by legitimate scholars in the respective disciplines.

As a biomedical scientist, it is utterly offensive to me to see biology used in a manner as it is used in the above article. This kind of “gerrymandering” to support an individual ideology is akin to the KKK using the Bible to “prove” that non-white races are subhuman and inferior; akin to the use of rogue “intelligence” to “prove” Saddam Hussein possessed WMDs, which inevitably led to the disaster known as Bush’s Iraq War.

This type of pseudo-intelligence, pseudo-analytical synthesis can be very frightening because there are so many people that will accept and “buy” into this kind of “thinking”.

WARNING/RED ALERT/CODE RED: Acceptance and belief in this type of pseudo-intelligence by the 2000 and 2004 electorates played a prominent role in how our country ended up with a total moron as its head of state.


Posted by: Kim-Sue at June 21, 2007 6:56 PM
Comment #223703

Jack,

You are wise not to advocate abortion as a policy means to fight crime. It is, as you say a statistics game you play. Unfortunate it is, that some may believe that killing the innocent might prevent them from becoming guilty at a later time. Not a very good policy, but perhaps a justification for abortion to some.

However, I prefer that if one were to die, that the criminal already be convicted of a crime, and warrant such punishment. After all, everyone is by law, (at least I think this is still true), innocent until proven guilty. Thus, such a justification for abortion would be unconstitutional and certainly un-American!

JD

Posted by: JD at June 21, 2007 9:21 PM
Comment #223709

JD,

“Unfortunate it is, that some may believe that killing the innocent might prevent them from becoming guilty at a later time. Not a very good policy, but perhaps a justification for abortion to some.”

That’s the most ridiculous postulate I think I have ever read on these pages.
No, make that ever read period.

Yes, absolutely, it is wise that Jack doesnt advocate abortion as a means of crime control, because the mere thought of it alone is bone stupid.

Posted by: Rocky at June 21, 2007 10:03 PM
Comment #223726

Rocky, perhaps you have not heard of Steven Levitt, a University of Chicago economist that recently won the John Bates Clark medal, (comparable to the Nobel Prize). One of his most noted works was his research naming legalized abortion as one of the primary reasons for drops in the crime rate throughout the last two decades.

His work has been discussed by Universities across the country, and organizations such as the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI), and reported by numerous news agencies, such as the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal as well. Survival of the fittest, or the population control of the unwanted lesser classes is alive and well in modern academics!

JD

Posted by: JD at June 22, 2007 1:47 AM
Comment #223744

JD,

And your point is?

Posted by: Rocky at June 22, 2007 8:36 AM
Comment #223749

JD,

My post #223744 was at 5:36AM before I had my coffee.

While I have heard of Levitt’s “Freakonomics” study, I hadn’t read it. I did, however, take the time use Google to actually inform myself this morning.

Abortion in the 70’s wasn’t just a “lower class” thing. It was also a sexual revolution thing, and while the abortion rate for blacks (as a percentage) may be higher, far more white women actually have abortions as stated in the article below.

From Steven Levitt at slate;

http://www.slate.com/id/33569/entry/33571/

“As an aside, it has been both fascinating and disturbing to me how the media have insisted on reporting this as a study about race, when race really is not an integral part of the story. The link between abortion and unwantedness, and also between unwantedness and later criminality, have been shown most clearly in Scandinavian data. Abortion rates among African-Americans are higher, but overall, far more abortions are done by whites. None of our analysis is race-based because the crime data by race is generally not deemed reliable.”

From wikipedia;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legalized_abortion_and_crime_effect#Relation_to_controversy_about_legal_abortion

“Levitt also suggests the following argument: suppose an individual assigns a low value to the life of a fetus, versus that of a newborn infant or adult, say 1 percent? Then, assuming that 1.5 million abortions have resulted in a reduction of 15,000 homicides per year, that validates the estimate of 1 percent; in which case such a person might consider the reduction in homicide to be a strong argument in favor of legalized abortion. Levitt also states that whereas the male contingent of aborted fetuses would have been prone to criminality, the female contingent would have been prone to unwed motherhood. Rates of unwed motherhood have increased, however, since the time of Roe v. Wade, not peaked and then significantly decreased, as is the case for the crime rates.”

I had heard the comment made by William Bennett.
It is one of the most bigoted statements ever made, yet Bennett gets a pass from you guys on the right.

Your claim;

“Survival of the fittest, or the population control of the unwanted lesser classes is alive and well in modern academics!”

Isn’t just uninformed, it’s just plain wrong.

You need to stop for a minute and not just take the words of some moron with an axe to grind as Gospel.
You need to look this stuff up for yourself, and then form an opinion.

Posted by: Rocky at June 22, 2007 9:39 AM
Comment #223805

It is not uninformed at all, Rocky. Levitt did correlate abortion with the reduction in crime throughout the last two decades. This was a hot topic among policy experts, and academic institutions, especially those of so-called higher learning. Bennet’s comment was made, relative to Levitt’s theory that had just surfaced around the same time. Had he used the class argument he would have been hailed by Democrats rather than villified. He simply happened to mention Blacks, which I did not mention. I mentioned the lower classes of people. Abortion is being touted by some as a means of crime prevention among the lower class, no doubt about it. These types of theories make their way around every Dept. of higher education across the country. They helped Levitt win the award I mentioned.
The mere thought that persons in poverty, or who do not want children should be allowed to kill their unborn child is an evolution-like survival of the fittest doctrine. A mother who thinks she is incapable of being a proper mother, therefore, needing an abortion, should be required to give the reasons for and substantial evidence for believing herself to be so inept. (Even those with a disability are required to show proof of their disability before receiving certain forms of medical care). Not a woman though, she can declare herself incompetent and unfit any time she doesn’t want to take responsibility for her actions. Many liberals feel that they would rather help her with an abortion than have to carry the weight of her low class incompetent children as well. So much for “it takes a village”!
But, hey, whatever it takes to preserve the higher class of the species and to protect their precious possessions.

JD

Posted by: JD at June 22, 2007 7:37 PM
Comment #223810

JD,

“Had he used the class argument he would have been hailed by Democrats rather than villified.”

Yeah, right, and if it hadn’t been for my horse I wouldn’t have had to spend that year in collage.
(Thank you Lewis Black)

“I mentioned the lower classes of people. Abortion is being touted by some as a means of crime prevention among the lower class, no doubt about it. These types of theories make their way around every Dept. of higher education across the country. They helped Levitt win the award I mentioned.”

And your proof is, where?

Levitt and Donahue published their work “The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime” in 2001. Levitt won the award in 2003, and BTW Bennett’s gaff happened in 2005.

From the AEA website;

http://www.vanderbilt.edu/AEA/clark_medal.htm

“The John Bates Clark medal is awarded biennially to that American economist under the age of forty who is adjudged to have made the most significant contribution to economic thought and knowledge.”

Hardly comparable to the Nobel Prize.

From wikipedia;

“”The numbers we’re talking about, in terms of crime, are absolutely trivial when you compare it to the broader debate on abortion. From a pro-life view of the world: If abortion is murder then we have a million murders a year through abortion. And the few thousand homicides that will be prevented according to our analysis are just nothing—they are a pebble in the ocean relative to the tragedy that is abortion. So, my own view, when we [did] the study and it hasn’t changed is that: our study shouldn’t change anybody’s opinion about whether abortion should be legal and easily available or not. It’s really a study about crime, not abortion.”

In a study in 1997 Levitt postulated that a greater police presence reduces crime.
Well gee… ya think?

I would guess that the fact that there is a greater police presence has nothing at all with the drop in crime.

JD, you make vast claims with half vast (actually no) proof.

Posted by: Rocky at June 22, 2007 8:54 PM
Comment #223815

JD, this statement: “Survival of the fittest, or the population control of the unwanted lesser classes is alive and well in modern academics!, stands in direct contradiction of liberals and Democrats siding with large family low wage immigrants being permitted citizenship, and their pro-choice position.

How do you reconcile these?

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 22, 2007 9:10 PM
Comment #223830

“Presented at seminars at the University, Stanford and Harvard but not yet published, “Legalized Abortion and Crime,” Chicago economist Steven Levitt’s recent study that links the legalization of abortion to the country’s falling crime rate in the 1990s, already is receiving national attention.
The study, co-authored by Levitt, Professor in Economics at Chicago, and Stanford University’s John Donohue III, suggests legalized abortion may be responsible for approximately half of the crime rate’s recent fall.”
(The University of Chicago Chronicle, 1999)

“A better understanding of the reasons for declines in crime helps policymakers as they formulate programs to reduce crime. For instance, with lower future crime rates, there may be less need to build prisons,” Levitt said.
(The University of Chicago Chronicle, 1999)

Rocky, though Levitt and Donohue claim they have no agenda, Levitt mentions that his work is helpful in formulating policy in the above quote.

As for Donohue, he works at the Brookings Institution which performs public policy research. Here is what Brookings claims is their goal:

“The Brookings Institution is a private nonprofit organization devoted to independent research and innovative policy solutions. For more than 90 years, Brookings has analyzed current and emerging issues and produced new ideas that matter—for the nation and the world.
For policy-makers and the media, Brookings scholars provide the highest quality research, policy recommendations, and analysis on the full range of public policy issues.
[Research at the Brookings Institution is conducted to inform the public debate, not advance a political agenda]. Our scholars are drawn from the United States and abroad—with experience in government and academia—and hold diverse points of view.
[Brookings’s goal is to provide high-quality analysis and recommendations for decision-makers in the U.S. and abroad on the full range of challenges facing an increasingly interdependent world].”
(The Brookings Institution)

Do you really think that these guys are without an agenda? Though they claim to be, they provide analysis for the “decision-makers” of the United States.

Oh, and Levitt was inducted into a recent Time Magazine’s top 100 most influencial persons in the United States. But, no agenda there, right? So, as I have said, the idea that we can achieve a more peaceful and crime free America through abortion is alive and well in the upper classes of America, with plenty of evidence to back it up.

“That’s the most ridiculous postulate I think I have ever read on these pages.
No, make that ever read period.”
Posted by: Rocky at June 21, 2007 10:03 PM

Care to take that statement back now?

JD

Posted by: JD at June 22, 2007 10:58 PM
Comment #223838

JD, this statement: “Survival of the fittest, or the population control of the unwanted lesser classes is alive and well in modern academics!, stands in direct contradiction of liberals and Democrats siding with large family low wage immigrants being permitted citizenship, and their pro-choice position. How do you reconcile these?
Posted by: David R. Remer at June 22, 2007 09:10 PM

It is not a contradiction at all, David. Liberal Democrats know as well as conservatives that we will always have a lower class. Not even they can provide enough abortion on demand to completely eliminate this “lower species” as they see them. Therefore, to protect themselves, and to promote themselves as the “necessary providers” for such an incapable segment of the species, they make themselves out to be “superior tribal clansmen” in evolutionary terms by wresting away the day’s catch of others and giving to those who serve them.
Knowing also that there is another group of tribal clansmen, (Republicans) who are in a struggle to topple them from their position of superiority within the clan, and knowing that the ratio of their superiority is so narrow and so few, they are willing to adopt policies of taking in more lower class for the purpose of servanthood. After all, it is not going to cost them anything as long as they can keep these new servants happy with other people’s catches. In fact, it will insure future victory over Republicans by increasing the servant margins. You see, power and superiority is always the primary motivation. This is why they must also dress a pro-abortion platform with words like pro-choice. Who in their right minds would go along with allowing someone to kill their child, unless it was somehow interpreted as a Democratically guaranteed right passed down and provided by the “superior Democratic clansmen”?
Perhaps, in terms of evolution, we have not evolved that far.

JD

Posted by: JD at June 23, 2007 12:04 AM
Comment #223841

JD,

“Care to take that statement back now?”

Absolutely not.

That America would use abortion as a means of controlling crime is still the most ridiculous postulate I have ever read.

“Unfortunate it is, that some may believe that killing the innocent might prevent them from becoming guilty at a later time. Not a very good policy, but perhaps a justification for abortion to some.”

You made that statement, Levitt states that his study theorized that the abortion of unwanted children in the 70’s may have had an effect on the crime rate in the 90’s and denies that he had any ulterior motive.
Apparently that’s just not good enough for you.

I posted this from wikipedia, and provided a link;

Levitt also states that whereas the male contingent of aborted fetuses would have been prone to criminality, the female contingent would have been prone to unwed motherhood. Rates of unwed motherhood have increased, however, since the time of Roe v. Wade, not peaked and then significantly decreased, as is the case for the crime rates.”

But apparently that’s still not god enough for you either.

Do you understand that no one, not even Levitt could predict how many of the aborted fetus’ would be male or female?
Do you assume that just because they were aborted, that had they been born, and survived to adulthood they would surely have gone on to a life of crime?

You are claiming an agenda where those involved say none exists.

What could possibly be more ridiculous than that?

Oh, and BTW,

Merriam Webster’s defination of postulate;

pos·tu·late
Function: noun
Etymology: Medieval Latin postulatum, from neuter of postulatus, past participle of postulare to assume, from Latin, to demand
1 : a hypothesis advanced as an essential presupposition, condition, or premise of a train of reasoning

Posted by: Rocky at June 23, 2007 12:21 AM
Comment #223850

Rocky,

You take a paragraph in which Levitt admits that his study is somewhat inconsistent, and completely ignore the grand welcome that the study received, including the prestigious John Bates Clark medal. I simply state what the study concludes; that abortion is the likely reason for the drop in crime and as Levitt states in the quote that I used above, this knowledge may be useful to formulate policies for reducing crime. He is a highly influential economic and social policy expert, along with his partner, John Donohue III. He is certainly considered such by Time Magazine who knows him better than I.
It would be ludicrous to completely ignore that; 1. two persons in extremely high levels of influence released such a controversial study linking abortion with crime prevention, 2. it was welcomed and discussed by top policy forums and educational institutions throughout the United States, 3. the individual received a prestigious Academic award, and national recognition in one of the most widely read Magazines in History (Time Magazine).
Yes, I believe both individuals had a motive. Perhaps, that is assuming. However, their motive is not as important as how widely it was discussed and in many cases accepted, as the awards and recognition prove. Someone does not win prestigious awards in academics unless their work is highly accepted.

JD

Posted by: JD at June 23, 2007 1:27 AM
Comment #223888

JD,

“You take a paragraph in which Levitt admits that his study is somewhat inconsistent, and completely ignore the grand welcome that the study received, including the prestigious John Bates Clark medal.”

First of all, I posted an article from slate.com where Mr Levitt states in unequivocal terms that his study had no agenda. Apparently you didn’t read the article, or worse yet you transposed your agenda to read only what you felt proved your point.

Secondly, the John Bates Clark medal is prestigious to an infinitesimal segment of society.
To anyone else on the planet is this more prestigious than a camping merit badge?
If I possessed one of these medals, could I buy a cup of coffee for less than a dollar?

Thirdly, that Levitt made the “Times 100 most influential people of 2006” is meaningless. Levitt wrote “Freakonomics”, a book that sold a million copies. So BTW did the recent book “The Diana Chronicles”. I am very sure that Mr. Levitt looked forward to sharing the podium with the other luminaries named that year, like P. Diddy, and Rachel Ray.
So much for influential.

Fourthly, there is a quote from Mark Twain that has been often repeated by the likes of Winston Churchill, and Benjamin Disraeli;
“There are three types of lies; lies, damn lies, and statistics”.

Look, I don’t wish to denigrate Mr. Levitt, I am sure his mother is very proud.
That said, I stand by my previous statement, and you have yet to justify yours, that Levitt’s hypothesis is “widely” (your word) accepted.

That Academia has discussed this theory is great, but just how “widely” does this theory influence anyone else on the planet?

I would bet the farm that not one member of Congress would have the stones to stand in front of the American people and suggest that we should use abortion on the “lower classes” to control the crime rate.

That sir, is just how “widely accepted” Mr. Levitt’s theory is.

Posted by: Rocky at June 23, 2007 12:17 PM
Comment #327570

Horsehockey. Liberals just want to left alone by the conservatives who want to teach their children creationism, tell them when and who to have sex with, send their children off to war in some third world country which is no threat to the U.S., spend all their tax money on defense, ad nauseum. It’s been scientifically proven that republicans are lower on the evolutionary scale. Google it.

Posted by: William R. Candler at August 12, 2011 7:09 PM
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