Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Noah Smith — Calling All Sociologists: America Needs You


Something I can agree with.
There are many more economists in the public sphere than sociologists. The president has a Council of Economic Advisers, but no Council of Sociological Advisers. Every presidential candidate has an economic team, but you never hear about a sociology team. There are government-run institutions like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Federal Reserve banks staffed with Ph.D. economists, but no such brain-trusts of sociologists.
In the media, economists such as Paul Krugman, my Bloomberg View colleague Tyler Cowen and others command large audiences and great intellectual respect. Nor are they unusual -- many economists blog, or write for important news outlets. As for sociologists, though a few do interact with the public -- for example, Tressie McMillan Cottom of Virginia Commonwealth University or Fabio Rojas of Indiana University-Bloomington -- most remain in the ivory tower.
That’s a shame, because, as Bloomberg reporter Brendan Greeley recently pointed out, more and more of America’s problems look sociological rather than economic.
It's a terrible mistake to see all issues as chiefly or exclusively economic, either in origin or solution.

What is a required is a system approach that is both trans-disciplinary (inclusive) and also meta-disciplinary (integrative). Economist Kenneth Boulding got this, for example, as did E. F. Schumacher. Karl Marx got it, too.

Here is what John Maynard Keynes had to say about it:
The study of economics does not seem to require any specialized gifts of an unusually high order. Is it not, intellectually regarded, a very easy subject compared with the higher branches of philosophy or pure science? An easy subject at which few excel! The paradox finds its explanation, perhaps, in that the master-economist must possess a rare combination of gifts. He must be mathematician, historian, statesman, philosopher—in some degree. He must understand symbols and speak in words. He must contemplate the particular in terms of the general and touch abstract and concrete in the same flight of thought. He must study the present in the light of the past for the purposes of the future. No part of man’s nature or his institutions must lie entirely outside his regard. He must be purposeful and disinterested in a simultaneous mood; as aloof and incorruptible as an artist, yet sometimes as near to earth as a politician. — J. M. Keynes "Alfred Marshall, 1842-1924" The Economic Journal, (Sept.,1924), 321-322
This goes not only for policy but also education. The disciplinary approach reflects the disjointed approach of methodological individualism that is fundamental to neoclassical based economics and the neoliberal political theory based on it. It's literally killing us.

Bloomberg View
Calling All Sociologists: America Needs You
Noah Smith

79 comments:

Kain said...

In principle I'd agree; however, Sociology today is crap.

Bob said...

You do have a Surgeon General.

Tom Hickey said...

In principle I'd agree; however, Sociology today is crap.

Thanks to economist Gary Becker and rational choice theory, as well as importation of methodological individualism and microfoundations

Serge_Tomiko said...

genetics is revolutionizing sociology and psychology. It is one of the few human sciences that isn't bullshit. So many studies are more reliable than 99% of medical studies or standard fare psychology studies. Sociology is crap because Tabula Rasa is our religion, but science demolishes it at this point. The 1960s generation is in charge though. Nothing will change until they are dead or retire. They have spent their entire lives believing all men are created equal, and won't change.

Kain said...

"Thanks to economist Gary Becker and rational choice theory, as well as importation of methodological individualism and microfoundations"

Maybe that hasn't had a positive effect on it, but I would say it's the "Conflict Perspective" / the post-structuralist, post-modernist and critical theory that has infected it. Like Serge above has said, the 1960s is in charge along with their completely debunked ideas of "Tabula Rasa" and "Everything is a social construct".

They ought to bring back functionalism, and perhaps some of the better things in other fields. Perhaps more of the "System vs. Agent" dilemma.

Instead we get this: http://socpro.oxfordjournals.org/content/53/4/483.abstract

What's really amazing is how much bullsh*t is in so many of our humanities and social sciences, including yes, the methodological individualism and microfoundations in Economics.

circuit said...

There are economists that take sociology and anthropology seriously. Check out Stiglitz and Akerlof. Robert Solow has a wonderful book on the Labour Market as a Social Institution which calls on economists to consider social norms as influencing economic activity. Of course, all this work was overlooked because of the ratex-new classical 'revolution' (of which Stiglitz, Akerlof and Solow mostly stayed clear of).

Boulding is of course a giant.

Matt Franko said...

What about Darwin Tom?

"Survival of the fittest". ?????

Its become foundational ....

Matt Franko said...

So people are taught "survival of the fittest!" and then they put it into use and you Darwin people are all indignant or something...

HOW .... DO.... YOUR ..... BRAINS..... WORK....?????

Tom Hickey said...

@ Matt

The phrase "survival of the fittest" is not generally used by modern biologists as the term does not accurately describe the mechanism of natural selection as biologists conceive it. Natural selection is differential reproduction (not just survival) and the object of scientific study is usually differential reproduction resulting from traits that have a genetic basis under the circumstances in which the organism finds itself, which is called fitness, but in a technical sense which is quite different from the common meaning of the word.[7]

Wikipedia

Tom Hickey said...

So people are taught "survival of the fittest!" and then they put it into use and you Darwin people are all indignant or something...

It's siimilar to Adam Smith's "invisible hand" metaphor. The modern interpretation has nothing to do with the way Adam Smith used the phrase, as Gavin Kennedy, Smith scholar points out on his blog Adam Smith's Lost Legacy.

Matt Franko said...

LOL Tom...

Here is Darwin himself 1800s:

"Survival of the fittest IS natural selection..."

So lefty biologists see the problem and then say "oh!!! oh!!! Well Darwin was not right there!" ... "It is true ...but ....not all the time!"

The whole fing thing is absurd...

Tom Hickey said...

Matt, no one in biology today takes surivial of the fittest = natural selection seriously even though Darwin adopted Herbert Spencer's phrase, especially since. natural selection is now understood in terms of genetics.

The people that are still using survival of the fittest in terms of modern evolutionary theory are morons, just like people stuck in gold standard thinking in finance and econ. It's so 19th century.

Jeff65 said...

Matt,

Are you saying that inheriting a pile of money is natural selection? Spell it out for us.

Cheers

Matt Franko said...

So two amoebas "cooperated" (?????) and one gets an eyeball pop out somehow then uses eyesight to its advantage and moves up the food chain and this is a problem how?

We have F/A-18, F-35, Hellfire, SM-3, Tomahawk, Trident II, etc why don't we just go wipe out all the Iranians with their "death to America!" bs?

Why don't we just go kill all those people ?

We're "fittest!"...

Just like the amoeba who got the eyeball... F those people wipe them all out and keep on moving on up.... It's textbook Darwin 101 which you guys are supposed to believe is true...

If you believe Darwinism is true how the hell can you complain when you see one cohort doing better than another?

Tom Hickey said...

Are you saying that inheriting a pile of money is natural selection?

That view of inherited traits is called "Lamarckism," and it was debunked long ago.

The modern evolutionary synthesis completely rejected any sort of transgenerational epigenetic inheritance, but that view has been modified somewhat, but not enough to make it anything resembling the inherited traits of Lamarckism.

See Wikipedia-transgenerational epigenetic inheritance

Matt Franko said...

You Darwin people need more MAJOR amounts of mathematical training...

Ryan Harris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt Franko said...

Jeff your making my point thanks "it's in the genes ..."

They are the spawn of a superior cohort so they should keep the munnie...

Tom Hickey said...

Matt, Darwin was supplanted by Mendel's discovery and the subsequent development of genetics in the modern evolutionary synthesis. Evolutionary theory is no longer "Darwinism. If it is attributable to any one person, it is Mendel. Darwin proposed a theory based on natural selection but he did not know how it worked. Mendel showed that through genetics. Great strides have been made since Mendel's discovery, too. The naive understanding of evolutionary theory is back in the 19th century.

Matt Franko said...

You Darwin people need more training in the area of ' equivalency' in mathematics because you don't understand it...

Matt Franko said...

So Jeff youre saying the amoebas who got the cyclops eyeball when they had offspring they should have poked out the eyes of the offspring so they wouldn't be more "fittest!" Than the amoebas who didn't get the cyclops eyeball?

Matt Franko said...

"It's in the genetics"

Tom well then wipe the F out the genes of MENA because that whole area is full of sub-modern human genes... This is how the Nazis thought .. The Nazis were big into Mendel and Darwin and all of those people .... You want to ride with those Nazi people too? I don't...

Here:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_eugenics

Heil Darwin!!!!!

Matt Franko said...

Heil Mendel!!!

Matt Franko said...

You guys have a big problem with your whole train of thought here...

Jeff65 said...

Matt,

It's not clear to me what you think we are thinking.

Cheers

Magpie said...

A Trumpetist who doesn't say "Heil Trump"? LOL

Greg said...

Settle down Matt.

I have no idea where you are wanting to go with this but you are absolutely butchering evolutionary theory, not in a good way either.

Matt Franko said...

Here go to 2:11 (2 hours 11 minutes) this is a new alt-right or something guy McInnes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMrRaUbWJMY

This is how these people think... 'survival of the fittest!'... Darwin/etc... evolution! blah blah...

Matt Franko said...

The whole Ayn Rand shtick comes straight out of Darwin...

Matt Franko said...

"printing money causes inflation!" = "survival of the fittest causes evolution!"

These are equivalent rationalist statements... null....

I dont know how you guys can know Monetarism is not true and yet at the same time think Darwinism is true... working with the same brain...

Ryan Harris said...

Matt, I think most people understand linguistically, dynamical systems and the associated ideas like catastrophe theory and bifurcation, ergotics, and more generally chaos even if they don't speak Math. Natural selection is the first baby step in thinking about biology and evolution.

Maybe I don't understand what your beef is.
A trivial idea like natural selection or a market equilibrium can be useful even if it is has narrow application that almost never exists in a pure form but in our imagination.

Bob said...

Social Darwinists believe in survival of the fittest as a moral imperative.

Ignacio said...

Fittest = most violent?

Your problem is the same as the social darwinists and all their political off springs (from Ayn Rand to Hitler), narrow definitions of everything to support false arguments. Basically, demagogy.

If you define fittest as a synonym of 'strength' or 'violence' then you conclude stupid shit. Pro tip: if this was the only way in which humans were 'fit' humans would have been wiped out by other animals or by viruses long ago, as we are particularly week creatures. FFS we have the longest nurture in nature which takes a lot of energy and group protection.

Then on top you add a lot of crap who does not have anything to do with nature: military power, social organization, industrial economies, money and finance. This all are creations or shaping the environment, when you try to extrapolate "the law of the jungle" into human civilizations you end up with completely shit arguments, because if the "law of jungle" did apply at individual levels human civilizations wouldn't exist at all. Is your brain which cannot compute things and is just ranting because religious and ideological believes.

Nature has no opinion on those things, you are answering your own questions: fittest has nothing to do with raw strength or violence, it's completely contextual. BTW modern evolutionary theory does say nothing about extermination of other species, there is no agency in the extermination of other species or individuals as a necessity to evolve, is the environment which puts constraints or not on ecological niches (is usually a poor strategy with low rate of success because it's dangerous, specially for larger and more complex species which have harder time reproducing). There is a difference between logical necessity and logical sufficiency, and this is where social darwinist go completely bonkers and full retard.

Stop narrowly defining terms for the sake of arguing non sense.

Ignacio said...

*week = weak

Tom Hickey said...

"printing money causes inflation!" = "survival of the fittest causes evolution!"

False equivalence, if one actually understands the respective theories.

We know why "printing money" doesn't cause inflation because we understand the operations. We understand natural selection also because we understand the causal mechanism based on scientific theory borne out by evidence.

What causes demand-pull inflation is spending in excess of capacity to expand supply to meet demand., driving up the price level continuously. What causes evolution by natural selection is genetic adaptation to the environment. This is what modern biologists mean by "fitness."

In sexual selection the healthiest males compete for the healthiest females and the healthiest females self-self the healthiest males. It's about likelihood of survival of those strains of DNA.

Over time the "fittest" for the environment become dominant. However, if conditions shift as environmental conditions do, if those formerly successful ("fit") strains of DNA are not as compatible with the changing environment as other formerly less successful ("fit"), those less successful in reproduction whose genetic trains become more "fit" for the environmental shift will dominate and eventually replace the those that were formerly dominant under previous environmental conditions.

Now we know on a genetic level (molecular) how this mechanism works, whereas this was a mystery to Darwin and others that were unaware of Mendel's discovery of genetics and their subsequent development.

Mendelian inheritance[help 1] is inheritance of biological features that follows the laws proposed by Gregor Johann Mendel in 1865 and 1866 and re-discovered in 1900. It was initially very controversial. When Mendel's theories were integrated with the Boveri–Sutton chromosome theory of inheritance by Thomas Hunt Morgan in 1915, they became the core of classical genetics while Ronald Fisher combined them with the theory of natural selection in his 1930 book The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection, putting evolution onto a mathematical footing and forming the basis for Population genetics and the modern evolutionary synthesis.[1]Wikipedia

At the level of group selection, there is competition within a group and cooperation among in-groups to meet threats from other groups in inter-group competition for resources. But there is also cooperation among groups, e.g., to prevent inbreeding. Commerce began with intergroup cooperative interaction to gain access to non-local resources.

"Survival of the fittest" explains exactly nothing, because in modern evolutionary theory "fitness" is defined in terms of genetic adaptation to the environment through natural (genetic) selection that occurs through sexual selection.

Evolutionary theory is based on mergence is a complex adaptive system through genetic adaptation on the individual level and coordination on the group level. This occurs within organisms and among organisms of the same and different species through symbiosis.

The reason that evolutionary theory is "scientific" is that we know the causal mechanism and have evidence for them on the genetic-molecular level.

Intelligent design is not "scientific" in that there is nothing that counts for it that meets the criteria of evidence in science. Science can neither prove nor disproves theories that are not amenable to the logic of science, that is, subject to criteria that scientists generally accept in doing science.

There is no problem scientifically in believing or disbelieving in ID, since these are both beliefs. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. The major issue with ID scientifically is that it has not been stated scientifically without anthropomorphizing.

Ryan Harris said...

Organisms adapted to changes in the world, but also radically changed the world and then adapted to those changes. Most of the organisms that survived, survived because of luck, not because of fitness, when we look over long time periods and large populations those who made it weren't often the most well suited to the conditions before or after a catastrophe. Perhaps they followed the scott Adams system. J/K

Tom Hickey said...

That's may be true but it is like external shocks in econ. It's exogenous. Evolutionary theory is an endogenous account that doesn't deny the existence or importance of exogenous shocks that impact the system and change endogenous paths but not causal mechanisms.

Matt Franko said...

"Stop narrowly defining terms"

That's what you are supposed to do with terms... If not then they are not terms but metonyms...

Now you are saying "money!" is a term?

When I would say 'we should rather use the term USD..." Would you then say "stop narrowly defining terms!" ?

Matt Franko said...

I don't believe in ID either...

Matt Franko said...

Ignacio,

Did you look at the video of the new guy with the beard?

This is how 99.999% of these people think....

You can think whatever you want but people generally think this way wrt Darwin... This is what they are taught

Greg said...

@Ryan

When you say that "people survived out of luck , not fitness" why exactly do you mean? Whatever genes you are born with are certainly not of your own doing. But to use luck as an antonym for fitness in this context seems wrong. The fitness which is being referred to when talking about evolution is inherited its not an acquired thing and I'm not sure of anyone of note who argues otherwise. Fitness and luck go together you seem to be opposing them.




Tom Hickey said...

II don't believe in ID either..

I do. Perennial wisdom explain the causal mechanism, but that is only available experientially by those whose cognition extends beyond the gross plane.

Tom Hickey said...

"Fitness in the broad sense of natural selection means that some organism are lucky enough to have the genes that enable them to survive in a shifting environment. They luckily inherited such genes, the outcome of which could not have been foreseen in advance and planned for. It's also called fate, which essentially boils down to " the luck of the draw,"although the sages tell that there is a causal mechanism operating behind it that is not available to gross consciousness that is as deterministic as the physical laws of nature.

Ryan Harris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ignacio said...

That's what you are supposed to do with terms... If not then they are not terms but metonyms...

Lost in translation. You don't take something to mean what you want to fit an argument. Ie. equating fitness with strength or violence. Fitness in this context cannot be reduced ("narrowly defined as") to capacity to kill other life forms (including of your own species), makes no sense.

I don't care what David Duke or Ayn Rand types say Matt, I already understand their ideology (which makes no sense, is not consistent and logical), so arguing in their terms better don't waste time with them, it's not good for your mental health.

Some people is not worth arguing with, need to keep a scientific approach. I know that the layman explanation for evolutionary theory (and it's extrapolation to social behaviour) is completely garbage, unfortunately I used to discuss this online many times in the past to anarcho-capitalist or neoliberal types in the past, that does not mean they are right thought.

Ignacio said...

Yeah, 'luck' is 'fitness' at a given period in time. Whether is though systemic shocks to the ecosystem or thought constant pressure to occupy ecological niches sometimes the phenotypes favour some individuals over others.

BTW the phenotypes are byproduct of the environment too, if we are nurtured in a way to express some traits or others this can result in a more adaptive behaviour or features. That's why talking about fitness as a 'constant' characteristic is absurd, fitness can mean many things, from the ability to form more cohesive groups with more in-group support (in which the 'survival of the brutish' or 'law of the jungle' logic as understood by social darwinists collapses) to develop stronger symbiotic links with co-existent life forms in your ecosystem.

John said...

Matt, evolutionary thinking has moved on since Darwin, just as all science progresses. I'd say natural selection is not a rich enough theory to explain all life. There are almost certainly other mechanisms operating, as Darwin accepted, although his uber-disciples like Dennett and Dawkins refuse to accept this unless forcefully confronted by better evolutionary thinkers.

In any case, why should natural selection be thought of today in the same way as Darwin did? We don't think of space or time in the same way as Newton did, and he was the greatest genius who ever lived. A great deal of evolution is cooperative, not competitive, which turns the idea of survival of the fittest pretty much on its head. The greatest biologist of the twentieth century, Ernst Mayr, found all these ideas of survival of the fittest and selfish genes absurd, which is what they are.

Bob said...

Maybe this will be of help?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biological_interaction

Competition, Amensalism, Antagonism, Neutralism, Commensalism, and Mutualism.

Roger Erickson said...

NeoCons & NeoLiberals have been answering that call for >80 years ... since they thought it called for sociopaths. :(

Matt Franko said...

Here is Rand wrt evolution:

"Her most interesting comment on the implications of evolution may be the following, also from her notes for Atlas Shrugged:

We may still be in evolution, as a species, and living side by side with some “missing links.” [. . .] We do not know to what extent the majority of men are now rational. (They are certainly far from the perfect rational being, and all the teachings they absorb put them still farther back to the pre-human stage.) . . . . (Most men are rational beings, even if none too smart; they are not pre-humans incapable of rational thinking; they can be dealt with only on the basis of free rational, consent.) (p. 466-67.)[5]

She goes on the same entry to describe those incapable of rational life as “sub-human” who need to be “enslaved” and “controlled.” (p. 467.)"

http://rebirthofreason.com/Articles/Parille/Ayn_Rand_and_Evolution.shtml

Darwinism is a big problem wrt social relations... social justice...

Tom Hickey said...

Nutcase like Rand that confuse social Darwinism with Darwin's theory of evolution based on natural selection are the problem, not Darwin. Ir's like blaming all the atrocities committed in Jesus' name by his misguided followers. Ayn Rand is just one of the more recent in a long line of nut jobs.

John said...

Rand's near insanity was compounded by the fact that she was also an imbecile. On their own, insanity and imbecility are losing propositions. For some reason, when combined they become highly attractive, garnering untold numbers of acolytes. If you add terrible prose to the mix, you may find yourself mentioned in the same breath as Kant and Hegel. Kantian and Hegelian impenetrability is a highly attractive trait, although in Rand's case she was on the whole easily understood: reactionary politics dressed up as magnificently daring and fearless intellectual thought.

Matt Franko said...

"Nutcase like Rand"

Ad hominem Tom? (

Tom 'social Darwinism' is just rationalized by the left in view of the right's application of Darwinism....

The first one in time sequence, Darwinism, is a rationalist science (btw just like Monetarism) so when the left sees the right using it, then the left, can simply again rationalize some sort of derivation of it in order to keep their politics... so they come up with 'social Darwinism' and then say its not correct to apply Darwinism 'socially' yada, yada,

Meanwhile the right just maintain their strict adherence to the original science and and dont rationalize some derivation... its 'conservative'...

Think of Krugman-types saying lowering the rates doesnt help 'in a liquidity trap' or the other peoples saying well we cant lower rates to negative so monetarism isnt being allowed to work, etc... or Koo 'doesnt work in a balance sheet recession...", etc...

Time domain: There is the original rationalist theory, then when it is demonstrated not to work empirically, a cohort dogmatically rationalizes an additional twist to it to be able to keep hanging on somehow to the original theory in some way...

So now we are treated to "social" Darwinism when Darwin never had that in there in his original rationalization in the first place...

This is where empiricism has to come in and call bullshit on the whole basic thing...

Matt Franko said...

Here's a real beauty:

""At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break [between humans and non-humans] will then be rendered wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as at present between the negro or Australian [aboriginal] and the gorilla."

-Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, p. 156"



And you guys still want to be riding with this m-fer?

Boy we better find who these "savage races!" are and start exterminating them pronto!

WTF?!?!!?



Ignacio said...

Is not rationalisation, is just that is stupid and absurd? Where in nature do you see written laws to conform natural relationships? All the ideas and ideologies pushed by the idiots in the social Darwinist camp are ENFORCED by human institutions and laws ALWAYS. There is no nature at work there in the biased way they talk about.

No where, once society is adding social constraints in form of abstract constructs like "law" the "law of the jungle" (which is anyway an oversimplification in modern evolutionary theory) simply does not apply. Ayn Rand is irrelevant, because I cannot go and hit her in the head or assault her and steal her shit in an human society (at least not without punishment). All the rationalisation from the right always comes under the rule of law or withotu overseeing authorities, hyper-capitalism? Cannot work without enforcing authorities? Neo-liberalism? Is continued state intervention for the elites profit.

The rationalisation is from THE RIGHT because it fits them (favours the status quo or their agenda), you are not getting this straight at all. You can't come with your bullshit arguments if you are not in for the TRUE "law of the jungle". That is: there is no written laws which allow or disallow certain behaviours. Don't come with your bullshit if you won't allow me to go and hit you in the fucking head because I don't like the stupid shit you are saying. The far right is the exact opposite of that: is the total control and 'rule and order' by the state and/or the elites (if it's a capitalist aristocracy so be it).

It's all so stupidly inconsistent that is a pain to have to explain this to grown ups. It's NOT EVEN WRONG, it's a non starter at all, even from classic Darwinism and doing non sense like equating "fitness" = "violence" (or "strength") it does not make any sense.

Briefly: ideology is the rationalisation of personal traits, it comes after. If those arguing some ideology are basically pricks, cunts, dickheads or insane is a waste of time. I would say Ayn Rand was more a cunt that an imbecile, strictly speaking.

You got all this backwards.

Ignacio said...

"You" = Royal we, not singular.

John said...

Matt,

It's undoubtedly true that Darwin wrote some appalling things. But so have many great thinkers - Mill, Locke, Hume, etc. In the end, you simply disregard the nonsense and run with the insights. Whatever else we think of his social beliefs and primitive racism, Darwin was an extraordinary insightful thinker. We have to separate evolutionary thought from "social Darwinism" as many try to do. Unfortunately, fanatics like Dennett and Dawkins, and the rest of the Natural Selection Taliban, have captured the public imagination and parts of the scientific community. Although not as complete in its takeover, this neo-Darwinian fanaticism is reminiscent of the neoliberal hijacking of economic thought.

We can also say that Darwin wouldn't have written the same things today. He'd have been delighted to find out about human genetics and the findings that there are zero genetic differences between so-called races of humans.

Roger Erickson said...

"Darwin [also] wrote some appalling things"

By that measure, we gotta throw out the Bible too :(

Tom Hickey said...

Ad hominem Tom? (

I have a terminal degree in philosophy. Rand had no formal training in philosophy. She was a university grad with some grad study in screen arts. I have an MGA in dramatic arts with a specialization in cinematic arts. Rand was a novelist who also wrote some philosophical works. I was a philosophy professor. I think by background qualifies me to comment professionally on her as a "philosopher." She was a "cracker barrel philosopher." Most people who follower her are not doing so from an informed position but rather out of confirmation bias. Rand claimed that her "philosophy" was used on reason when it was based on rhetoric.

Tom Hickey said...

Until Mendel discovered genetics, which was subsequently elaborated in detail in terms of molecular biology, most "civilized" people considered other races, even close ones, subhuman "barbarians" and "savages." This is how Jefferson could write that all men are created equal and the founding fathers could acquiesce while also advocating or at least allowing slavery. Aristotle was of the same opinion, and neo-Nazis still believe it today. Before Mendel there was an excuse. After Mendel, not.

Roger Erickson said...

And don't forget that Mendel lied and doctored his data, in the course of describing his core discovery .... of statistically traceable models of recombinant feature sets.

It was only von Boltzmann who finally admitted: "For every supposed constant, the closer we looked, we found only a probability function."

Deal with it.

Tom Hickey said...

Oops. Should be MFA rather than MGA.

Actually I had intended to pursue a career in film when the draft at the time that Vietnam was heating up prompted me to volunteer for Officer Candidate School in the US Navy. After having meet the active duty requirement, I qualified for the GI education bill that had been passed. My avocation was philosophy (I had majored in it in college) but I didn't expect to pursue it formally. I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to get a free Phd, and that changed my career course. While a philosophy prof. I also gave a course in film in the art department, and several students subsequently went on to a career in film as a result, so the MFA was not wasted.

Bob said...

Why are we lumping Objectivists with Social Darwinists?
And what is Matt trying to convey, so far unsuccessfully?

Tom Hickey said...

Why are we lumping Objectivists with Social Darwinists?

They are both crackpots.

Matthew Franko said...

You cant have "social Darwinism" without Darwinism FIRST...

You guys think genetic technology, gene splicing, etc... is Darwinism, its not...

You guys must think a cell phone text message is the same thing as mental telepathy...

Matthew Franko said...

Tom,

She was certainly smart enough to apply Darwinism...

Tom Hickey said...

Actually, the attitude and belief that social Darwinism was founded on, racial superiority-inferiority and dominance-submission, fully human-subhuman, long pre-existed Darwin. "Might makes right" (competition to the death) was a fundamental principle of feudalism. Racial and cultural superiority and competition as "survival of the fittest" were simply adapted to the theory of evolution. There are plenty of people that still hold such attitude and belief even after these assumptions has been discredited scientifically through understanding of modern genetics.

Tom Hickey said...

Actually, it is more similar to court politics in the feudal era than "Darwinism." This was not about "survival of the fittest" but palace intrigue.

John said...

"She was certainly smart enough to apply Darwinism."

But apply it wrongly, not correctly. I've never read or heard any evolutionary biologist claim that Rand correctly applied Darwinism. And for the excellent reason that she did not understand evolutionary thought and was a shallow but highly reactionary weirdo.

Anyone can do what Rand does. You see this all the time. The world is littered with cranks who apply general relativity to prove we've been visited by aliens. Or those who apply quantum mechanics to prove humans can teleport themselves or shoot energy/fields out of their eyeballs like Superman.

Unfortunately, the so-called "skeptic societies" haven't really turned their attention to Rand's crackpot "philosophy" and reactionary politics, preferring to disprove charlatans like Uri Geller. It may have to do with the people who become uber-sceptical are former Randians. Former Randian cult members may be too embarrassed with their past association with the capo di tutti capi of all crackpots.

Ignacio said...

Matt, you are overthinking it (like the "might makes right" crows mentioned by Tom). "Darwinism" or evolutionary theory (which the actual modern one, so keeping talking about darwinism is anachronistic) is a simple principle or concept, that under environmental pressure certain phenotypes will be favoured over others, giving a specie a reproductive and survival advantage (if the pressure is high enough, this will effectively extinguish other specie).

This is what "fittest" means, no the mental masturbation of whoever (this includes Darwin himself, who ultimately was a victim of it's own society and time much like many white male intellectuals during the era of colonisation). Many people took this principle and twisted to fit their own preconceived ideas regarding how societies are run, in ways that are not even wrong (Google the phrase "not even wrong" for context), as they make zero logic sense (ie. Rand). this is what is called pseudo-science, using demagogy to give a false appearance of truthiness to something twisting scientific theory so it looks like ok.

Yes, unfortunately demagogues profit from it using it in layman terms. this is unavoidable is not something unique to biology (or to evolutionary theory for a matter of fact). But by attacking evolutionary theory you are not 'defeating' them, you are fighting a straw-man: the fact is that there are cunts, and then there are non-cunts. Cunts will always take advanatge of non-cunts, and will use all their tools at their disposal. Ideology and rationalisations comes AFTER personality and emotion. That people already existed before "social Darwinism", as Tom characterises them: "might makes right", and would continue to exist after. Trying to fight them with reason is futile, they don't care about reason, they will use whatever demagogy to push their agenda or favour a given status quo. What is fundamental to understand is that they do not care about TRUTH or REALITY, people like that wants to create their own reality, arguing over science with them is a waste of time.


This principle or concept is a "proven" (quoted) one, the exact mechanics in which it happens and the details are not fully understood or known (I don't think much people over this thread has argued otherwise).


P.S: Here is Ernst Mayr on principles vs. laws in science and physics vs. biology:
"If one concludes that there are no natural laws in evolutionary biology, one must ask, on what can one then base biological theories? The view now widely adopted is that theories in evolutionary biology are based on concepts rather than laws, and this branch of science certainly has abundant concepts on which to base theories. Let me just mention such concepts as natural selection, struggle for existence, competition, biopopulation, adaptation, reproductive success, female choice, and male dominance. [...] As a result, a philosophy of physics based on natural laws turns out to be something very different from a philosophy of biology based on concepts."

This extends to all 'high order' sciences IMO (anything about physics) as there are no other rules than physical rules that rule our material world (IMO). So the same thing happens to an extend as you go from the primitive relations in nature to higher complexity phenomena.

Matthew Franko said...

Here:

"Gene drives have the power to override the traditional rules of inheritance. Ordinarily the progeny of any sexually reproductive animal receives one copy of a gene from each parent. Some genes, however, are “selfish”: Evolution has bestowed on them a better than 50 percent chance of being inherited. Theoretically, scientists could combine CRISPR with a gene drive to alter the genetic code of a species by attaching a desired DNA sequence onto such a favored gene before releasing the animals to mate naturally. "

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2016/08/dna-crispr-gene-editing-science-ethics/?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=Social&utm_content=link_twp20160828ngm-dna-editing&utm_campaign=Content&sf34439857=1

"evolution has bestowed on them..." ??????

Oh has "IT" ????? LOL!!!

"evolution has bestowed on them..." = "the market has allocated...."

c'mon guys this is all BS...

Matthew Franko said...

John,

" reminiscent of the neoliberal hijacking of economic thought. "

You are making out "economic thought" to be more than what it is...

Yes "economic thought" looks challenging when we view it thru the policy actions of these libertarian stochastic Darwinian morons... how hard is it to adequately provision society subject to real terms? This is not that hard (sorry...) where we have to create this whole "economic thought" alleged intellectual edifice ...

Any one of us could fix this in about 30 days....



Matthew Franko said...

"But apply it wrongly, not correctly."

John, it only works ONE WAY... ie correctly... it leads to advancement... some end up better than others... the "fittest" of the lot...

Matthew Franko said...

You are disagreeing POLITICALLY with Rand's application of it... and with Darwin's application of it...

When Darwin says here: "the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races."

How is this not "social"? imo it is certainly a "social" outcome within mankind...

Our understanding of evolution just lets us get directly involved and accelerate the process... ethnic cleansing, forced sterilization, euthanasia, birth control, abortion, wars, these all help evolution run along at a faster rate....

You may disagree with this and say it is being applied "incorrectly" but that is just your opinion and will act to retard the process... many others say its the correct way and is helping along the natural selection process... and imo they are acting in good faith and just using what they have been taught...

Tom Hickey said...

imo they are acting in good faith and just using what they have been taught...

This is hugely complicated, on one hand, and complex on the other, because of evolving knowledge. It's a major question in sociology, for example. Anthropologists and sociologists attempt to understand the many factors contributing to the attitudes and beliefs around this and related issues. There is no definitive answer.

However, the science is well established for those that wish to pursue it and have the chops to do so. Many people either don't choose to pursue for a variety of reasons and some don't have the chops to do so even if they would like to.

One of the difficulties in cultural. People develop from infancy in groups — family, clan, tribe, nation — which are no longer based chiefly on kinship in many areas, but still exits in terms of relationships. Early imprinting and cultural influence during childhood and adolescence are burned into the neural circuitry and are difficult to change. It's questionable whether imprinting that takes place in the first three years can ever be changed completely.

As result patterns of patriarchy v. matriarchy, dominant vl submissive, superior v. inferior are burned into the hardware in many cases and otherwise intelligent people are strongly biased. Of course, this applies to a lot a areas of life and most people are run by their cognitive biases. Scientific method and logical-mathematical training are antidotes for such bias but they don't guarantee overcoming it because assumptions, hidden assumptions, and presumptions.

Human are prisoners of their own minds individually as well as the collective consciousness of groups, as it group mindset and group-think.

The factors involved are neurological, psychological, sociological, as well as logical.

Phrases like "social Darwinism" are high-level abstractions that cover a lot of ground. They don't apply in just one way. And as I have been saying, the attitudes and beliefs involved precede Darwin by millennia. IN fact, the roots of such attitudes and beliefs are pre-human and are apparently evolutionary traits that protect from threats by focusing on differences.

So assigning moral responsibility is difficult in many cases. Does that excuse all bigotry? I don't think so.

Tom Hickey said...

When Darwin says here: "the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races."

Was that an opinion or a scientific prediction based on Darwin's view of evolution? If it was an opinion, it is rather irrelevant and uninteresting. However, if it was a prediction based on the theory, they it is a hypothesis that can be tested dynamically in history. The results are not in yet and there are still a lot of what Darwin and the English of his day would consider "the savage races."

Are the "civilized races of men" (meaning at the time essentially whites) actually trying to exterminate and replace through the world "the savage races" (non-white). That belief exists but it is considered a conspiracy theory by many if not most whites. But there are groups of whites (radical white supremacists) that actively promote such a policy.

We'll see. The jury is out.

Qaddafi predicted that Europe would become Black if he were removed. He was for Pan-Africanism and co-existence with Europe on an equal footing. He warned that if he were removed, the game would change and not to the advantage of Europe in the long run.

Tom Hickey said...

Ignacio: "Here is Ernst Mayr on principles vs. laws in science and physics vs. biology:
"If one concludes that there are no natural laws in evolutionary biology, one must ask, on what can one then base biological theories? The view now widely adopted is that theories in evolutionary biology are based on concepts rather than laws, and this branch of science certainly has abundant concepts on which to base theories."


The difference here is between logic and math. Math is a subset of logic. Logic deals with concepts. So does math. If you don't understand this, then read up on philosophy of mathematics. Number is a concept. There is disagreement over what the concept of number entails. Moreover. science that uses math is based on assumptions that are conceptual. Variables are also conceptual if they connect with real world phenomena.

Conceptual systems can be formalized without math using symbolic logic.

Science is chiefly about providing theoretical explanations that are subject to testing by comparing the models that generate to what the models purported represent. This requires come kind of causal transmission. Many of the mistakes in science involved getting the direction of causality wrong. Equation generally say noting about causality themselves. Causality involves their interpretation in terms of a theory.

Basically, there are two ways to approach a study. One is openly, which is the basis of scientific method, building on past successes. The other closed. It is called dogmatism and it involves stipulation of assumptions undermining theoretical models as certainly true because they are self-evident. Assertion of self-evidence jus begs the question that the explanation is supposed to be the explanation of. Dogmatism is confusing belief with truth. Beliefs may or may not be true. A true belief is a belief with justification. The logic of justification investigates the process of justification in terms of its rules, which are norms and criteria.

Matthew Franko said...

"But there are groups of whites (radical white supremacists) that actively promote such a policy."

Yeah and where do these nutters get it? .... D-A-R-W-I-N.... neo-Nazis can read too....


Matthew Franko said...

Tom right from the campaign headlines:

https://twitter.com/donaldcrooked/status/769925113915535361

"Kaine Tells Florida Politicians to Stop 'Social Darwinism Me First' Trump"


Kaine isnt saying social Darwin isnt true he is just saying he disagrees with it politically...

There are MANY (stochastic libertarian Darwinian morons) out there who probably think he (Kaine) is recommending messing with the "natural order" of things and could do great harm... Like the anti-GMO people only wrt humans here not food....