Kitcher on social Darwinism

| 46 Comments

The distinguished philosopher Philip Kitcher has posted an opinion piece on social Darwinism in today’s New York Times. Carefully distinguishing social Darwinism from (its somewhat distant relatives) eugenics and racism, Kitcher notes that

The heart of social Darwinism is a pair of theses: first, people have intrinsic abilities and talents (and, correspondingly, intrinsic weaknesses), which will be expressed in their actions and achievements, independently of the social, economic and cultural environments in which they develop; second, intensifying competition enables the most talented to develop their potential to the full, and thereby to provide resources for a society that make life better for all.

Kitcher relates social Darwinism to, shall we say, certain political positions but argues that if social Darwinism selects for anything, “the most likely traits are a tendency to take whatever steps are necessary to achieve a foreseeable end, a sharp focus on narrowly individual goals and a corresponding disregard for others.” He argues that a society run on social-Darwinist principles “would almost certainly yield a world in which the gap between rich and poor was even larger than it is now.” Indeed, the money quote is to my mind,

Rather than the beauty, wisdom, virtue and nobility [that Herbert] Spencer [who developed the theory of social Darwinism] envisioned arising from fierce competition, the likely products would be laws repealing inheritance taxes and deregulating profitable activities, and a vast population of people whose lives were even further diminished.

Some commenters have noted the irony that those who reject Darwin’s theory of evolution often embrace social Darwinism with open arms. Surprisingly few of the comments I read were critical; I would like to have seen some cogent counterarguments.

Acknowledgment. Thanks to Douglas Theobald for showing me the article.

Nitpick. “Nature, red in tooth and claw” is Tennyson, not Spencer.

46 Comments

THE ECONOMIST’s blogs had a witty essay on Social Darwinism, titled “I Resemble That Remark”:

http://www.economist.com/blogs/demo[…]al-darwinism

“WHICH is meaner in America: calling someone a socialist or calling him a social Darwinist? Oh! Oh! Call on me! Socialist, I say! Why? Because no one has ever been arrested in America, nor surveilled by the FBI, on accusations of being a social Darwinist … Not only does ‘social Darwinist’ fail to connote the same level of stigma as ‘socialist’ for most Americans; for most Americans ‘social Darwinist’ fails to connote anything at all.”

MrG

The issue of which policies (if any) are properly called Social Darwinism is an interesting exercise in intellectual history. The different issue of whether those policies are good or bad is perhaps better discussed on the one or two (million) other blogs on the Internet that do that. (I suspect that if we discussed it here there wouldn’t be unanimity anyway).

But what is really interesting is that the Discovery Institute, represented by David Klinghoffer on Evolution News and Views has taken great offense at the description of those policies as Social Darwinism. As far as I can see they like those policies, are not so surprised that Barack Obama doesn’t like them, but what gets their nose really out of joint is that policies that they like are called any sort of “Darwinism”.

That, and not the issue of historical accuracy, seems to be what upsets them. Given their frequent use of the “argumentum ad Hitlerum” against evolutionary biology, historical accuracy cannot be too high a priority for them.

I would like to give a cogent response–I think the article is silly. But I’d like to not incite another horrible political comment thread on the internet. If you’re interested I’d be happy to email you my thoughts. (Perspective: I have a Master’s in economics. I suspect Kitcher hasn’t studied the subject very much.)

I have the utmost respect for Philip Kitcher’s expertise as a philosopher of science who has also written cogently on music (As an aside, I bumped into him often one season while we were both attending classical music concerts at Carnegie Hall.). I also greatly appreciate his work on behalf of supporting the teaching of sound mainstream science in American public school science classrooms as both a prominent support of NCSE and for writing books like “Abusing Science”, which is among the most devastating critiques of creationism I have read. However, I concur with Swimmy’s terse observation. Kitcher’s New York Times’ op-ed essay is rather silly.

At least Klinghoffer is actually right for once, albeit for the wrong reason.

Darwin did not endorse harsh social policies by the standards of his time.

All human social policy is equally a product of biological (human) evolution. Social policy in Denmark and social policy in Somalia are equally the result of the evolution of humans.

Social “Darwinism” is not related to Charles Darwin and his name should not be associated with policies that he either knew of and did not endorse, or could not possibly have known of, as they were initiated after his death.

An interesting point, as well, one that I believe Darwin raised (but if not it is still interesting), is that there was, up until maybe Victorian times, a strong association, in Western society, between social status and number of living descendants. At the time of the American Revolution, as a general trend with many exceptions, more educated and better off people with more resources have more surviving children.

That relationship has totally broken down. For many decades now, local childhood mor[t]ality has been a strong predictor of family size and thus inversely related to population growth.

In extremely diverse societies - Western Europe, Japan, affluent areas of Latin America, affluent Afro-Caribbean nations - when childhood mortality becomes rare, people choose to have smaller families. I’m not claiming that “people consciously have more children as insurance against or reaction to deaths of children”; it could be unconscious or something else. But the trend is enormously clear.

This trend exists within the US; local populations that have higher infant and youth mortality than the general population tend to be more fertile.

If any human alleles are being selected for right now, they are mainly whatever alleles are associated with being very poor, living in an area with relatively high childhood mortality, and thus having relatively more surviving children than people in more affluent areas.

Seemingly, “Social Darwinist” policies, to use the term this once, may result in the opposite of the desired outcome.

harold said:

That relationship has totally broken down. For many decades now, local childhood morality has been a strong predictor of family size and thus inversely related to population growth.

childhood mortality

higher infant and youth mortality

relatively high childhood mortality

So, presumably you weren’t saying that local childhood morality predicts family size..

”… intensifying competition enables the most talented to develop their potential to the full, and thereby to provide resources for a society that make life better for all.”

No. This does not happen. This is conservative dogma, but it is contrary to fact.

Joe Felsenstein said:

harold said:

That relationship has totally broken down. For many decades now, local childhood morality has been a strong predictor of family size and thus inversely related to population growth.

childhood mortality

higher infant and youth mortality

relatively high childhood mortality

So, presumably you weren’t saying that local childhood morality predicts family size..

Thanks for catching the typo. Nothing Freudian, sometimes a caffeine deprived synapse is just caffeine deprived synapse.

Local childhood mortality strongly predicts family size.

There seems to be an “overcompensation”; where very few children die, family sizes tend to be small and population tends to be stable, grow by immigration, and/or grow due to high fertility in subsets of the population who do experience higher childhood mortality, but where relatively many children die, families tend to be larger, so much so that despite lower survival rate of children, higher population growth results.

This trend has been extremely strong and obvious for decades.

… sometimes a caffeine deprived synapse is just caffeine deprived synapse.

Hypocaffeinemia.

A curiosity about one large family: Johann Sebastian Bach had 20 children, of whom 9 survived him. Yet he has no direct descendants living today (I believe his last direct descendant was a great-granddaughter).

If you’re interested I’d be happy to email you my thoughts.

Yes, please.

TomS said:

A curiosity about one large family: Johann Sebastian Bach had 20 children, of whom 9 survived him. Yet he has no direct descendants living today (I believe his last direct descendant was a great-granddaughter).

That provides an interesting counterpoint to the discussion!

SWT said:

TomS said:

A curiosity about one large family: Johann Sebastian Bach had 20 children, of whom 9 survived him. Yet he has no direct descendants living today (I believe his last direct descendant was a great-granddaughter).

That provides an interesting counterpoint to the discussion!

Yes, but we know why JS Bach had so many children.

His organ didn’t have any stops.

So Bach’s family tree decomposed?

SWT said:

TomS said:

A curiosity about one large family: Johann Sebastian Bach had 20 children, of whom 9 survived him. Yet he has no direct descendants living today (I believe his last direct descendant was a great-granddaughter).

That provides an interesting counterpoint to the discussion!

It’s a good illustration of my point. In pre-industrial times, relative affluence and education were associated with relatively large family sizes. “Direct” descendants are important in human law and culture, and I’d have to look up how many times J. S. Bach was married, but the bottom line is, in the seventeenth century, affluence and status were associated with relatively large numbers of surviving children. Bach passed on a lot of alleles, most of which are probably still going strong in one form or another, despite the lack of direct descendants.

The seventeenth century in Western Europe was very likely one of the worst overall times and places in terms of morbidity and mortality. It was a “worst of several worlds” situation. Cities and towns were rapidly growing but public health measures were no better than during the middle ages, when people tended to live in tiny villages or cities that would be small towns by today’s standards. Imagine half a million people jammed close together mainly in wooden structures built with no codes, with no running water, water treatment, sewage treatment, virtually no privacy, very little bathing, no organized fire department or emergency services, no refrigeration, food supply dependent on traditional near-subsistence agriculture and morning markets, frequent malnutrition, little or no organized law enforcement, and a very high rate of violence (and I’m sure I could go on). That’s a good description of seventeenth century London.

And seventeenth century Western European dietary and alcohol intake patterns were sufficiently like modern patterns that, even without, say, cigarette smoking or industrial “trans” fats, diseases that are characteristic of “affluent” countries like myocardial infarction, stroke, cancer, gout, and so on were also common. Correct for infectious disease, and they may not have been any less common than they are today.

J. S. Bach was quite a survivor, as one anyone who lived long enough to become known to history during that period.

In those times, overall, the affluent actually did tend to have more surviving children.

That is no longer the case, because the children the affluent have now survive so well that the affluent have smaller families.

A professor of music who is also a popular composer would not be terribly likely to have 20 children in most affluent societies of today.

However, poorer people in areas where childhood mortality remains high carry on as before. Thus, alleles carried by poorer people exposed to higher childhood mortality, if there are any alleles that are relatively more frequent among this sub-population, are being selected for.

SWT said:

TomS said:

A curiosity about one large family: Johann Sebastian Bach had 20 children, of whom 9 survived him. Yet he has no direct descendants living today (I believe his last direct descendant was a great-granddaughter).

That provides an interesting counterpoint to the discussion!

And, following on from an earlier subthread, JSB’s works included a “Coffee Cantata”, which (if Wikipedia is to be believed) includes the line

If I can’t drink my bowl of coffee three times daily, then in my torment, I will shrivel up like a piece of roast goat.

Kevin B said:

And, following on from an earlier subthread, JSB’s works included a “Coffee Cantata”, which (if Wikipedia is to be believed) includes the line

If I can’t drink my bowl of coffee three times daily, then in my torment, I will shrivel up like a piece of roast goat.

Das hat recht. Von hier:

Herr Vater, seid doch nicht so scharf!

Wenn ich des Tages nicht dreimal

Mein Schälchen Coffee trinken darf,

So werd ich ja zu meiner Qual

Wie ein verdorrtes Ziegenbrätchen.

Renee Marie Jones said:

“… intensifying competition enables the most talented to develop their potential to the full, and thereby to provide resources for a society that make life better for all.”

No. This does not happen. This is conservative dogma, but it is contrary to fact.

The former contention is mostly still true (at least in the USA) assuming individuals work hard to take advantage of the educational opportunities available to them. The latter, not so much anymore (Trickle down does not work and economic altruism does not make you money on Wall Street…).

Vince said:

Renee Marie Jones said:

“… intensifying competition enables the most talented to develop their potential to the full, and thereby to provide resources for a society that make life better for all.”

No. This does not happen. This is conservative dogma, but it is contrary to fact.

The former contention is mostly still true (at least in the USA) assuming individuals work hard to take advantage of the educational opportunities available to them. The latter, not so much anymore (Trickle down does not work and economic altruism does not make you money on Wall Street…).

I don’t want to get into political discussion, but from a scientific and linguistic perspective, the statement in question is not precise enough to be meaningful.

What talents are we talking about? How do we measure them? What type of competition? How are we measuring the intensity of competition? How do we know that more competition is always good in all contexts? Etc.

Do you not show pingbacks at Panda’s Thumb or does my blog not work?

Anyway, my non-cogent 2-pence are here: http://historiesofecology.blogspot.[…]rwinism.html

It’s about the meaning and currency of the term “social Darwinism” and why Kitcher’s attributing Spencer as the arch social Darwinist is anachronistic given the historical timing of the above.

https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/[…]cWMgr_wkn7PI said:

Do you not show pingbacks at Panda’s Thumb or does my blog not work?

Anyway, my non-cogent 2-pence are here: http://historiesofecology.blogspot.[…]rwinism.html

It’s about the meaning and currency of the term “social Darwinism” and why Kitcher’s attributing Spencer as the arch social Darwinist is anachronistic given the historical timing of the above.

The term “social Darwinism” is pretty widely used and understood, at least in the US and Canada. The following lines of critique have been directed at the term -

1) Inaccurate reference to Charles Darwin - the term is informal but the type of policy it refers to is understood by most English speakers. Relative to the standards of his time, Darwin was not even close to being an advocate of harsh social policy and had relatively little to do with politics.

2) Inaccurate understanding of the impact of harsh social policy - although it was true that relatively well-off status was associated with more surviving children in the pre-industrial world, in today’s world, rich populations are not growing and poor populations subjected to high childhood mortality are growing rapidly. Thus, if some (imaginary unethical) person’s goal is to “select against” alleles disproportionately associated with poor populations (if any such alleles exist*), harsh social policies seem to do the opposite. A person bizarrely motivated to “select for”, or at least stop selecting against, alleles associated with rich populations*, would actually do better, paradoxically, to support humane development of poor regions and more opportunity and health care access for poor populations everywhere, with special emphasis on children’s health. *Obviously, it’s not definitive that there is any significant, non-trivial difference in allele frequencies between “rich” and “poor” populations.

3) Your issue seems to be with the attribution of the term to Herbert Spencer. That’s interesting and, although Spencer unequivocally advocated policies that were harsh by either modern or his contemporary standards, if he is not the actual originator of the term, it would be worth noting for reasons of accuracy.

For the history scholars here, a question: did Herbert Spencer analogize social processes to evolution in the sense that he argued that the rich would have more descendants? Or did he argue in terms of success and persistence of their enterprises? Or in terms of cultural transmission of values? Or was he just not clear where the analogy was?

My reading (of his Wikipedia page, not of Spencer himself) hints that he was mostly a Lamarckian but possibly all over the map.

@Harold said: As far as I understand, you neatly summarize the currency of the term “social Darwinism” as of today and in North America. That doesn’t mean it always had that currency.

The earliest use of the term I know of is: Fisher, Joseph (1877). “The History of Landholding in Ireland”. Transactions of the Royal Historical Society (London) V: 250.

The term occurs at page 25 and in a context that simply cannot be interpreted as having the same meaning as today. It is about thehistorical changes of the social systems of landholding in Ireland and in particular about translation of the original (probably ancient) Irish term for lending cattle into English that suggests lending of land instead. The author disputes this translation as sloppy and then argues that the theory of another author … see for yourself:

“It has appeared necessary to devote some space to this subject, inasmuch as that usually acute writer Sir Henry Maine has accepted the word “tenure” in its modern interpretation, and has built up a theory under which the Irish chief “ developed “ into a feudal baron. I can find nothing in the Brehon laws to warrant this theory of social Darwinism, and believe further study will show that the Cam Saerrath and the Cain Aigilbic relate solely to what we now call chattels, and did not in any way affect what we now call the freehold, the possession of the land.”

As you can see the currency of the term “social Darwinism” is simply what we’d today call social evolution without any bad implications like “harsh policy”. He just disputes that the Irish chief “socially evolved” into a feudal Baron - or rather that the Brehon laws can be used as evidence for that theory.

[The whole thing is online at: http://archive.org/details/historyoflandhol00fish. You can chose whether you prefer to read it as html, PDF, epub etc.]

So the term seems to have been around for a while, but not in the current meaning. For the origin of the current meaning I can only refer back to Thomas C. Leonadrs homepage (Prof at Princeton Dept of economics). You’ll find peer reviewed papers and references in them showing that Richard hofstdter established the current meaning as an negative epithet of laissez-faire economics. Free markets sounded too positive, I guess and laissez-fair too much like I-don’t-give-a-damn. So Hofstadter, disliking free-market economic philosophies, invented a negative epithet for the thing.

P.S.: If I sign in via my google account, why am I shown here as a masked panda?

@Joe Felsenstein As far as I know, Spencer was a Lamarckian. He even squabbled with Weismann agaist his central dogma. That’s also why Spencerian laissez-faire was probably not meant to be as harsh as it seems to us from retrospective. He seemed to believe that the poor could somehow, by trying very hard, better their lot and that poor laws would prevent that Lamarckian process. As we know, this Lamarckism is wrong and therefore Spencer’s ideas about what the best policy would be are wrong as well. But it would still be wrong to call him a social Darwinist (social Lamarckian seems better).

As far as metaphors are concerned, yes Spencer was all over the map. But he did not analogize social processes to biological evolution. He analogized biological, social and other processes to his idiosyncatic theory of evolution: a moving balance of forces - or rather an ornamental mobile of such moving balances of forces one pair dangling from another (illustrated here: http://www.victorianweb.org/philoso[…]r/dagg2.html). The outcome of these Spencerian evolutionary processes was at each level (biologica, social, whatever) “an integration of matter and concomitant dissipation of motion; during which the matter passes from an indefinite, incoherent homogeneity to a definite, coherent heterogeneity”.

P.S.: Did you see my ‘new’ stuff on the cost of meiosis?

Joe Felsenstein said:

For the history scholars here, a question: did Herbert Spencer analogize social processes to evolution in the sense that he argued that the rich would have more descendants? Or did he argue in terms of success and persistence of their enterprises? Or in terms of cultural transmission of values? Or was he just not clear where the analogy was?

My reading (of his Wikipedia page, not of Spencer himself) hints that he was mostly a Lamarckian but possibly all over the map.

Wikipedia seems to agree with n7PI that Herbert Spencer himself didn’t use the term “social Darwinism” (he did use the term “survival of the fittest”), that Spencer’s political stances don’t exactly fit a coherent modern ideology http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herber[…]itical_views, and that a German language publication used the term “social Darwinism” in 1877 in a way which is not the same as the contemporary English usage (whether this is a case of coincidence, or of meaning change due to translation, is hard to say).

Spencer did, however, apparently at least approve of eugenics.

The term “social Darwinism”, in English, today, is nearly always taken to refer to harsh social policies. That is unequivocal. If that usage dates to around the time of WWII or shortly after, that’s not surprising.

Nevertheless, the facts are that “social Darwinism” is not connected to either Charles Darwin, nor, in any logical way, to evolutionary biology.

https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/[…]cWMgr_wkn7PI said:

@Harold said: As far as I understand, you neatly summarize the currency of the term “social Darwinism” as of today and in North America. That doesn’t mean it always had that currency.

The earliest use of the term I know of is: Fisher, Joseph (1877). “The History of Landholding in Ireland”. Transactions of the Royal Historical Society (London) V: 250.

The term occurs at page 25 and in a context that simply cannot be interpreted as having the same meaning as today. It is about thehistorical changes of the social systems of landholding in Ireland and in particular about translation of the original (probably ancient) Irish term for lending cattle into English that suggests lending of land instead. The author disputes this translation as sloppy and then argues that the theory of another author … see for yourself:

“It has appeared necessary to devote some space to this subject, inasmuch as that usually acute writer Sir Henry Maine has accepted the word “tenure” in its modern interpretation, and has built up a theory under which the Irish chief “ developed “ into a feudal baron. I can find nothing in the Brehon laws to warrant this theory of social Darwinism, and believe further study will show that the Cam Saerrath and the Cain Aigilbic relate solely to what we now call chattels, and did not in any way affect what we now call the freehold, the possession of the land.”

As you can see the currency of the term “social Darwinism” is simply what we’d today call social evolution without any bad implications like “harsh policy”. He just disputes that the Irish chief “socially evolved” into a feudal Baron - or rather that the Brehon laws can be used as evidence for that theory.

[The whole thing is online at: http://archive.org/details/historyoflandhol00fish. You can chose whether you prefer to read it as html, PDF, epub etc.]

So the term seems to have been around for a while, but not in the current meaning. For the origin of the current meaning I can only refer back to Thomas C. Leonadrs homepage (Prof at Princeton Dept of economics). You’ll find peer reviewed papers and references in them showing that Richard hofstdter established the current meaning as an negative epithet of laissez-faire economics. Free markets sounded too positive, I guess and laissez-fair too much like I-don’t-give-a-damn. So Hofstadter, disliking free-market economic philosophies, invented a negative epithet for the thing.

P.S.: If I sign in via my google account, why am I shown here as a masked panda?

I have never had the “masked panda username” problem, but it does seem to be widespread. It would be nice if a solution could be found, as it gets a bit annoying when multiple “masked pandas” are in the same discussion.

I’m going to assume that the response by Joachim Dagg (aka Masked Panda #27) is definitive, since I wasn’t asking about the term “Social Darwinism” but what Spencer’s theory was.

(And Joachim, yes, I saw your response about isogamy at your blog – thanks for the reminder, I will try to respond).

Okay, I signed in with MovableType, in order to get rid of this panda mask, though I don’t see why a google account wouldn’t suffice.

Joe Felsenstein said:

I’m going to assume that the response by Joachim Dagg (aka Masked Panda #27) is definitive, since I wasn’t asking about the term “Social Darwinism” but what Spencer’s theory was.

Spencer’s Synthetic Philosphy isn’t one straightforeward theory that one could easily pin down like Darwin’s. With the latter, we can say: “Darwin’s theory is evolution by natural selection” and most people will understand.

In Spencers opus one gets certain recurrent themes as if the whole was a hologramm (each part reflecting the whole though in different light). One recurrent theme is the moving equilibrium of some Ying and Yang like forces. For biology that would be Evolution and Dissolution, but descending into population biology the moving equilibrium of forces driving the system are Fertility and Mortality. In psychology a top level moving equilibrium was Pleasure and Pain, and in sociology, if I remember correct, it was Industry and Militarism (why they should be opposing forces I dunno as war seems to create a lot of industry).

There are probably other moving equilibria I’ve not seen or other recurrent themes that I missed. I have to admit that I only read the First Principles (1 volume), Principles of Psychology (1 volume) and Principles of Biology (2 volumes). The Principles of Sociology (5 volumes) overpowered me, the pain in my neck was so awful, I had to stop reading and it seemed highly repetitive.

But you do get the notion of how Spencer could integrate biology into his synthetic philosophy by affiliating evolution to dissolution thus making it another moving equilibrium in his grand scheme.

I don’t see how he could have integrated cosmic evolution (the nebular hypothesis is one of his favourite recurrent tropes by anlogising it to natural selection or survival of the fittest. There is no replicator, inheritance, or anything the like in solar systems. It wouldn’t have been possible, it wouldn’t have been synthetic.

Excuse me for being off-topic, but I have been interrupted several times in attempting to post something here by a message that I must sign in again. I get this message at an inappropriate time, after I have completed writing the text, which means that I must sign in and then repeat the text which I have already entered; rather than a more convenient time: when I first call up the “Leave a comment” screen. I also wonder why recently the time for which I remain signed in has been so drastically reduced (what is it, a couple of days?).

TomS said:

Excuse me for being off-topic, but I have been interrupted several times in attempting to post something here by a message that I must sign in again. I get this message at an inappropriate time, after I have completed writing the text, which means that I must sign in and then repeat the text which I have already entered; rather than a more convenient time: when I first call up the “Leave a comment” screen.

.…

That happens a lot to me too. I have learned by bitter experience that, before I sign in, I should mark all the text in the comment box and copy it, so that after I have signed in I can simply paste it back into the now-empty comment box.

… and …

just as I was about to submit this it happened to me again! The text you see here is copied-and-pasted-back-in.

You have to sign out before you can sign back in. I will ask Reed if there is a solution to the problem.

Ideally it would detect the expiration when displaying the page, and not put up a thank you for signing in, or a box to type in, if the session isn’t usable at that point.

Henry J said:

Ideally it would detect the expiration when displaying the page, and not put up a thank you for signing in, or a box to type in, if the session isn’t usable at that point.

I suppose its timeout might occur after you start typing your comment, so it may not know when you log in that you are going to time out before you finish typing your comment.

Matt, I am not sure why I am supposed to log out, when it is telling me that, in effect, it already logged me out.

I am not sure why I am supposed to log out, when it is telling me that, in effect, it already logged me out.

I haven’t the foggiest idea, but it always says, “Thanks for signing in, Matt Young. (sign out),” whether or not I have been logged out. I learned the hard way to simply log out and back in to avoid losing what I had typed. At any rate, I have asked Reed to have a look-see.

Joe Felsenstein said:

TomS said:

Excuse me for being off-topic, but I have been interrupted several times in attempting to post something here by a message that I must sign in again. I get this message at an inappropriate time, after I have completed writing the text, which means that I must sign in and then repeat the text which I have already entered; rather than a more convenient time: when I first call up the “Leave a comment” screen.

.…

That happens a lot to me too. I have learned by bitter experience that, before I sign in, I should mark all the text in the comment box and copy it, so that after I have signed in I can simply paste it back into the now-empty comment box.

… and …

just as I was about to submit this it happened to me again! The text you see here is copied-and-pasted-back-in.

That’s what I do, too. In fact I may have to do it right now.

Incidentally, it’s always a good idea to write long comments in a text editor, when commenting on any site, and copy and paste them into the comment box.

This statement not intended to justify the sometimes annoying log in situation at PT.

However, if you type directly, any loss of connectivity to a site can destroy your work. If you use a text editor, your whole system has to crash for that to happen.

Matt Young said:

I am not sure why I am supposed to log out, when it is telling me that, in effect, it already logged me out.

I haven’t the foggiest idea, but it always says, “Thanks for signing in, Matt Young. (sign out),” whether or not I have been logged out. I learned the hard way to simply log out and back in to avoid losing what I had typed. At any rate, I have asked Reed to have a look-see.

I am beginning to suspect that this is because it is “keeping me logged in”, but when I go to submit (or preview) a comment it checks how long I have been logged in, and that exceeds some login timeout. In short there is a conflict between the length of the login timeout and the supposed ability to keep you logged in.

So you are saying that if I sign out, then log back in, it will not lose the text? Let me test this now …

[Clickety-typety-typety-clickety]

Nope, it lost the contents of the comment so I had to paste those back in.

So you are saying that if I sign out, then log back in, it will not lose the text? Let me test this now …

[Clickety-typety-typety-clickety]

Nope, it lost the contents of the comment so I had to paste those back in.

No, I didn’t say that - I log out before I enter any material, else I lose it. Or, more accurately, sometimes I remember to do so.

I did not have to (absurdly) log-out in order to comment the above. Nor did I have to do that before I registered with movabletype. My problem rather was that logging in with my google account, I got a mask put on. And that also seems to happen quite a lot here.

Swimmy said:

I would like to give a cogent response–I think the article is silly.

You appear not to understand what “cogent” – or even “argument” – means.

John said:

However, I concur with Swimmy’s terse observation. Kitcher’s New York Times’ op-ed essay is rather silly.

Oh, well then, I’m convinced.

This discussion of the history of the term “Social Darwinism” does not seem to at all address Kitcher’s argument.

It will be suprise thing if someone still believe that social darwinism is a persuasive theory for understanding the relationship between humans and its society. even though philosopher Philip Kitcher carefully distinguishes between Social darwinism and eugenics and racism, we can’t deny the fact that the philosophy of Nazi’s Holocaust came from the philosophy of darwinism such as the principle of the survival of the fittest that killed a variety of minorities such as handycap persons and gay and lesbians including the Jews. social darwinism need to rethink about the nature of humans and its society. Just imagine a certain society the social darwinist wnat to make.

Jay said:

It will be suprise thing if someone still believe that social darwinism is a persuasive theory for understanding the relationship between humans and its society. even though philosopher Philip Kitcher carefully distinguishes between Social darwinism and eugenics and racism, we can’t deny the fact that the philosophy of Nazi’s Holocaust came from the philosophy of darwinism such as the principle of the survival of the fittest that killed a variety of minorities such as handycap persons and gay and lesbians including the Jews. social darwinism need to rethink about the nature of humans and its society. Just imagine a certain society the social darwinist wnat to make.

Are you channelling Byers, Jay?

Or have we found another semiliterate loon to demonstrate the great truism: those who trash the theory of evolution are mostly semiliterate loons?

Or are you a poe?

In any case, your incoherent, ill-informed regurgitation of ancient and foolish creationist lies is worthless.

Dave Luckett said:

Jay said:

It will be suprise thing if someone still believe that social darwinism is a persuasive theory for understanding the relationship between humans and its society. even though philosopher Philip Kitcher carefully distinguishes between Social darwinism and eugenics and racism, we can’t deny the fact that the philosophy of Nazi’s Holocaust came from the philosophy of darwinism such as the principle of the survival of the fittest that killed a variety of minorities such as handycap persons and gay and lesbians including the Jews. social darwinism need to rethink about the nature of humans and its society. Just imagine a certain society the social darwinist wnat to make.

Are you channelling Byers, Jay?

Or have we found another semiliterate loon to demonstrate the great truism: those who trash the theory of evolution are mostly semiliterate loons?

Or are you a poe?

In any case, your incoherent, ill-informed regurgitation of ancient and foolish creationist lies is worthless.

You know you are dealing with an idiot, poe or sincere, whenever someone claims that the Holocaust was derived from “darwinism.”

Nevermind that Darwin was not an AntiSemite. Nevermind that “Social Darwinism” has more in common with the “divine right of kings” than with Biology. Nevermind that Hitler’s plans mirror the plans outlined in Martin Luther’s “Of the Jews and Their Lies.” Nevermind that the primary reason why Hitler wanted to eradicate the Jews was because he thought they were of the Devil. Nevermind that none of Hitler’s writings, speeches, memoirs, records of book collections, or any of Hitler’s minions’ writings, speeches, memoirs or records of book collections ever suggested that Hitler ever bothered to read any of Darwin’s writings to being with. And nevermind that reducing the genetic diversity of a population for the sake of its leaders’ aesthetic tastes is actually a bad thing according to Evolutionary Biology.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on April 9, 2012 6:05 PM.

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