On Morons and Monkeys: Reader Response
by Michael D. Rairdan

I am a researcher. I am a researcher because of my propensity to want to know the "truth," about what I am and who I am, and what this unfolding drama we call life and existence is all about. I like to know why and how things work. I have found that if you ask the question "Why?" enough times you will eventually reach the parameters of a belief structure and have a pretty good understanding of the merits it is based on. About five years ago I began to realize that most of the things we have been taught to be true about the nature of this world, and who we are, are either based on conjecture or simply aren't true. Such is the case for the branch of Scientism - Darwinism and it's scions Neo-Darwinism and Social Darwinism.


Scientism:
When a science's commitment to established doctrines overrides the basic commitment of all sciences to disinterested research and fair acknowledgment of proven results, then this science is operating as a religion, as a defender of dogmas.

"I wrote a short article contending that classical Darwinism was dead. This was almost entirely based on the verbatim statements of eminent biologists, my part being to select and arrange. My thesis was simply that the professionals had moved away from classical Darwinism, but that no one had informed the public of what had happened. This, I believed, was important news for the American public."
--Norman Macbeth - retired lawyer
from book published in 1973
"Darwin Retried -- An Appeal to Reason"

So why wasn't the public informed? What happened to classical Darwinism? At the beginning of our century, classical Darwinism had lost its luster in scientific circles. There was no evidence for Natural Selection; it was an assumption. So many of the scientists embraced what would be called Neo-Darwinism. The father of Neo-Darwinism is August Weismann. He postulated that even though proof of Darwinism cannot be found in the visible world, there is a proof, and that proof can be found in the microscopic world. He was encouraged in this vision by the budding new science of genetics. The classical Darwinian idea that variation is the result of "the struggle of existence " is replaced by the idea that variation comes from a kind of microscopic struggle. Natural Selection becomes a means of evolution that no longer operates "in the clear." The idea was that religions and various other " civilized" institutions have interfered with the natural course of evolution, and thus it is necessary for a responsible elite to take up the burden of ensuring the continuance of evolutionary progress - through scientific government and through genetic engineering. This was the moral basis for the pursing of eugenics. Not discussed in our history books is the fact that in the 1930s the USA was considered to be at the cutting edge of genetics research. The primary financial backers of this research were the Rockefeller and Bush families. The experiments were taking place primarily in the southern mental hospitals. Germany's scientists came over, learned, and took it home, carried it a step further, and the rest is history. Social Darwinism at it's finest. After WWII those involved in the research of eugenics, changed the term to "genetics" for obvious reasons. There is more to that story but I won't go into that here.

"I well remember how the synthetic theory [Neo-Darwinism] beguiled me with its unifying power when I was a graduate student in the mid-1960s. Since then I have been watching it slowly unravel as a universal description of evolution. I have been reluctant to admit it, but if [Ernst] Mayr's characterization of the synthetic theory is accurate, then that theory, as a general proposition, is effectively dead, despite its persistence as textbook orthodoxy."

--Stephen Jay Gould
"Is a new and general theory of evolution emerging?"
Palaeobiology, 6.1 (1980) 119-30

The major shortcomings of neo-Darwinism:

1. It provides no satisfactory explanation for the origin of life.

2. The observed fact that the evolution of higher categories (phyla, classes, etc.) of animals has decelerated, if not ceased altogether, contradicting a basic premise of the theory, that small changes in organisms should continuously over time lead to the formation of higher categories. This may also be a result of our brilliant enlightened science poisoning the environment with an attitude of "life is a struggle, life is war, each one against the other."

3. There is no evidence of the gradual evolutionary mode postulated by the theory, and no satisfactory explanation of the stasis and evolutionary "jumps" observed in the fossil record.

4. Many, if not most, species have not become extinct because they were "outcompeted" by other species that evolved superior characteristics, as neo-Darwinian theory claims, but because of mass extinction probably caused by a collision of the Earth with a comet, god's pool cue.

5. One of the basic assumptions of Darwin and neo-Darwinism, the "struggle for existence," is not borne out by observations of wild-living animals. We appear to be the only ones doing it. These are only a few of the more salient problems with the theory. We are encumbered by an "evolutionary" science that is in fact not scientific. It is astonishing that for well over a hundred years, our scientists, our philosophers and theologians, our social theorists, our "opinion leaders," have failed to recognize our prevailing theory of life and evolution as false and fraudulent.

To break the grip the Church ( primarily White Male) had on the minds of man, The Royal Society of England (definitely White Male) promoted another religion (Darwin being the first pope). It condoned the suppression of information to the masses and killed far more humans than the previous ruler. That struggle for supremacy over the minds of man was finally complete in 1925 with the Scopes trial.

Today, the situation is quite reversed. Darwinism is the official biology and evolutionary theory of the U.S. government and most public school systems. Teachers who challenge the orthodoxy, by suggesting there might be alternatives to Darwinism, are regarded as highly suspect - enemies of science perhaps, perhaps even the pawns of "fundamentalism." It is even worse for scientists who rely for 60% of their funding from the government. Most of the grants go towards work on projects for the military industrial complex. If you don't dance to our tune, you don't work. The media does make the public aware of the number of scientists who have been ruined simply because they told the truth of what they found. Spencer Tracy, I mean Clarence Darrow, would have been on the other side of the fence this time. Certain of the agendas and objectives of Scientism have polarized our society, to the point where groups of citizens are forming self-defense organizations, i.e., "militias."

Built upon the untrue Darwinian premise that life is a fearsome dog-eat-dog struggle, Scientism holds that the only hope for peace is in turning the planet into a kind of super-kennel. Once humankind has been properly kenneled, then perhaps the work of genetically engineering the perfect world and perfect people can begin in earnest. Many citizens are alarmed by the seemingly ever-increasing regulatory powers of government at all levels, but they know not the source of the phenomena. I feel it is Darwinism, Social Darwinism, and Neo-Darwinism.

There are amazing new sciences, and even older ones that the new ones are the off shoots of, that have emerged and have far more scientific validity then the Judeo-Christian version of creation or Darwin's evolution. I believe in both a universe of intelligent design and an evolution. I belong to a group of individuals that aren't satisfied by fish symbols with or without feet. The sciences today are lagging far behind what quantum physics is discovering about the nature of reality and consciousness. Check out the movie Mindwalk just to listen to Liv Ullmann, playing a physicist, give a wonderful beginners lesson on the material world. The other sciences are stuck in Newton's mechanistic materialism and Lyell's gradualism. Read Michael Cremo's "Forbidden Archeology - The Hidden History of the Human Race," and find out what empirical evidence is being ignored by the orthodoxy. That book has the potential to open the eyes of the blind on a broad level and change our current group awareness. If you still feel that there must be some truth to (Neo-Darwinist) views that people in lab coats are the best hope of the world, I suggest you view the film Lorenzo's Oil.

I believe that what will occur in the next twenty years will stagger our current imaginations. The denial that permeates our culture will be forced to dissipate. The process will be a fearful death or a miraculous birth. That will be an individual choice. The current crop of children will be the mid-wives. Wondrous things will occur. Thank you for your indulgence.

Michael D. Rairdan


A short response from the Editor,

Michael, interesting, informative letter. However -

Good luck finding out the "why." I think people want to deny natural selection because it means humans are just as expendable as ants or birds or wolves or deer. We like to think we're special. We're not special. Stephen Jay Gould, btw, is a fierce Darwin loyalist. And one of my personal heroes.

Sasha Stone


Ed Owen's Response

Michael,

Thank you for your thorough response to the CineScene editorial on Evolution. We appreciate responses from our readers and welcome any and all submissions, regardless of their position. I would like to take a moment to respond to your post.

Throughout your piece, you define several terms and quote copious texts, but you fail to define the most basic of terms. In the first paragraph, you call yourself a researcher because of your desire to know "the truth," yet any good researcher would know that truth itself is a word desperately in search of a definition. Obviously you are one who understands the need for a common semiotic ground, and yet you allow vague terms such as "truth" and "science" to go undefined. This makes a true dialogue difficult, as the possibility for miscommunication rises exponentially with each phrase not commonly defined.

That aside, several of the claims you make in your opening paragraphs are either unsubstantiated, and therefore not valid as arguments, misleading and badly in need of clarification, or, in one or two cases incorrect. I do not attribute this to any sort of malice on your part, but rather a misspeaking of sorts.

In paragraph 4, you incorrectly label August Weismann as the father of Neo-Darwinism, and even posit a pseudo-history of his "discovery." August Weismann was a biologist, true, but his relation to Neo Darwinism is tenuous at best. Most texts attribute New-Darwinism to George John Romanes. Furthermore, your summation of Neo-Darwinism as "a kind of microscopic struggle" is simplistic and misleading. Romanes did not postulate Neo-Darwinism as a philosophical refuge for theorists fleeing what you describe as the failing Darwinism, but rather as a refinement of it, stating that the "struggle for existence" was not replaced by the genetic struggle, but refined by it.

In the next paragraph, you talk of US genetic experiments in the 30s, but you give no source, cite no text, provide no reference. In fact, you further disqualify the notion by stating at one point that it is "not discussed in our history books," a statement which attempts to rhetorically eliminate possible response, establishing you as possessing specialized knowledge not commonly available. Such rhetorical devices, while clever in the way that they seek to circumvent opposition, amount to little more than empty speech, lacking the substance required to support your position.

Furthermore, I would strongly disagree with the notion that genetics experiments occurring in the US in the 30s and the attempted wholesale genocide of the Jews in Europe in the 40s are separated by merely a step (paragraph 5, counting the quotes). You seem to imply that our research somehow fed the Holocaust, an implication which I think deserves either further elaboration or a total reconsideration.

Your definition of Scientism refers to the "commitment of all sciences to disinterested research and fair acknowledgment of proven results," but then you go on to misquote Stephen Jay Gould. Gould is an evolutionist who, has adopted positions opposed to an orthodoxy of Darwinian evolution based on the mechanisms of long-term adaptation and natural selection over relatively long periods of time. In the article you strangely choose to cite, Gould is not arguing against the general theories of Darwinism in any of its forms, but defending his theory of "punctuated equilibria" (see response to your #3 below), a redirection of traditional evolutionary theory.

Now, your list of shortcomings.

>The major shortcomings of neo-Darwinism:

>1. It provides no satisfactory explanation for the origin of life.

Nor did it ever claim to.

The primary function of neo-Darwinism (as with Darwinism, though both have been perverted over time) was not to explain the origin of life in the general sense, but rather to examine the possible course life has taken since its initial inception. Darwinism is primarily about what has occurred since life began, rather than a foolproof examination of how it began.

>2. The observed fact that the evolution of higher categories (phyla, classes, etc.) of animals has decelerated, if not ceased altogether, contradicting a basic premise of the theory, that small changes in organisms should continuously over time lead to the formation of higher categories.

You are correct in your statement regarding the deceleration of the evolution of higher categories, but draw from that the wrong conclusions. According to your logic, that changes are occurring is a given, a given that would, according to the theory, necessitate the continual evolution of higher order categories. However, another basic premise is the fact that such change is facilitated by need. You do not allow for the fact that organisms will adjust to their environment over time, settling into a state of symbiosis with the surroundings. Such a symbiosis would take away the need for change, and thereby the change itself. Thus, while the deceleration you point to is a fact, it supports rather than contradicts the basic premises of Neo-Darwinism.

>This may also be a result of our brilliant enlightened science poisoning the environment with an attitude of "life is a struggle, life is war, each one against the other."

There is no objective argument in this statement, and thereby no need for a response.

>3. There is no evidence of the gradual evolutionary mode postulated by the theory, and no satisfactory explanation of the stasis and evolutionary "jumps" observed in the fossil record.

You here appeal to science to support your position after repeatedly seeking to undermine the scientific authority. But, ok... The fossil record is a static image of life at various stages throughout the existence of the planet and its inhabitants, usually caused by violent upheavals in the local ecosystems. Gould, who you quoted above, has posited his theory of "punctual equlibria," which essentially replaces notions of a gradual change with the idea that evolutionary change occurs in rapid, infrequent measures. Regardless of the approach you choose, the fossil record does not, and cannot, capture motion or change, merely a given state at a given time. Inherent in the nature of their creation is a time lapse, not of days or months or even years, but centuries...millennia even. Thus gradual changes would not be recorded in the fossil record. For a more detailed response, see Mike Foote's article, "The Probability of Ancestors in the Fossil Record," in the Spring 1996 issue of Paleobiology. Also, Richard D. Norris actually uses the fossil record to trace gradual development in the article, "What is gradualism? Cryptic speculation in globorotaliid foraminifera," in the following issue.

>4. Many, if not most species have not become extinct because they were "outcompeted" by other species that evolved superior characteristics, as neo-Darwinian theory claims, but because of mass extinction probably caused by a collision of the Earth with a comet, god's pool cue.

You here confuse Neo-Darwinism with Darwinism in its purest sense. Neo-Darwinism, focusing as it does on the microscopic changes within a given species, makes few claims regarding the extermination of one species at the hands of another. Instead, it deals primarily with change within a given species - the eventual elimination of pigment in a species that lived entirely underground, for example.

Even true Darwinism, which more correctly fits your description as asserted above, makes only passing claims to the possibility of outright extermination of a species. Again, Darwin dealt largely with evolution within a species, whereby the strongest traits are perpetuated at the expense of the weakest.

>5. One of the basic assumptions of Darwin and neo-Darwinism, the "struggle for existence," is not borne out by observations of wild-living animals. We appear to be the only ones doing it.

On the one hand, the struggle refers to the submission of recessive genes to dominant genes over time, and, on a larger scale, the continuation of the strongest members of a species. In either case, examples from the wild abound. On the other side, you have what is more commonly referred to as survival of the fittest. In simple terms, the weak don't hunt, cant eat, then die. In what way is the struggle not borne out in the wild?

Your closing paragraphs are well written prose, but confusing. Although I understand the gist of your arguments, I don't necessarily see where they follow from the rest of your treatise. Your appeal to Quantum Physics, which itself has changed drastically over the past 50 years, seems patently false coming from someone who is seeking truth and disgusted with science. Furthermore, the movies you reference are problematic in your reading of them: it doesnt matter who's in the white coats in Lorenzo's Oil, white coats are still involved, metaphorically speaking. It is still the practice of science regardless of who is doing the practicing. Either way, the debate will go on long after we have stopped, especially given the recent events in Kansas and the religious fervor surrounding the coming millennium.

Ed Owens
StaffWriter, CineScene

Michael Rairdan's response.




CineScene 1999