Monday, April 21, 2008

Expelled excelled

Tonia and I saw Ben Stein's new movie Expelled last night. I can't remember the last time we went to a movie! But I wanted to be informed about the movie (quickly), rather than relying on second-hand info. And I took extensive notes during the film so I could do a better job with this blog entry. (Yes, I'm a dork!)

We both enjoyed it-- although "enjoy" might not be quite the right word. We would certainly recommend it if you have an interest in Evolution or ID. (Tonia was not particularly interested in the film, going in-- but thought it was well worth our time.) Beyond the debates over science and worldviews, the film's larger themes are freedom in general and academic freedom in particular.

I've only seen one of Michael Moore's films: Sicko. (See: my pseudo-review.) At the least, I would think one would have to put Moore and Stein in the same category-- documentaries that are well-constructed, provocative in terms of substance but quite measured in terms of style, funny in some places and poignant in others, addressing bigger issues, and "enjoyable".

Of course, many people disagree with the details in Moore's films (e.g., Sicko)-- and such disagreements with Stein seem inevitable. (I may report on some of those down the road.) That said, as with Moore's work, don't take the easy way out and let relatively small quibbles distract you from the larger points.

An overview:

The film's opening credits are accompanied by one of his film methods: interspersing dialogue and live action with old film clips of Germany from World War II and the Berlin Wall. The producers use the same method to insert some humor, bringing in funny clips (e.g., someone is talking about two parties disagreeing and they show a silent film clip of two people repeatedly slapping each other).

From the beginning, it is also clear that the predominant theme is freedom-- and in particular, the threat to academic freedom posed by establishment scientists who adhere strictly to Darwinism. Stein, as narrator, notes that science is about inquiry and the freedom to answer questions-- and asserts in the beginning that Science is being abridged. (One sees the same sort of thing in the debate on global warming.)

From there, the movie catalogs scientists and journalists who have been persecuted or at least ridiculed by the establishment: Richard von Sternberg, Robert Marks II, Guillermo Gonzalez, and so on. Beyond this group, Stein also engages most of the other prominent voices on each side of this debate. (The most prominent absentees I can think of: Michael Behe, Francis Collins, and Kenneth Miller.)

Some highlights (I hope I have the details correct):

-On the Sternberg controversy (about publishing Stephen Meyer's piece in his peer-reviewed journal), Sternberg said that it was odd but noteworthy that Meyer was challenged on a religious (Christian), political (Republican), and sociological (?) basis, but not the scientific aspects of his article.

-The back-and-forth with Michael Shermer was interesting. Shermer is famous for his skepticism-- on everything from theism to aliens. (He's also a libertarian.) Stein asks Shermer why people are being harassed for being skeptical about Darwinism's explanatory power and Shermer is skeptical that this could happen. (Off-camera, Stein concludes by wondering why Shermer's skepticism does not extend to Darwinism.)

-Stein quotes Darwinists on ID who say it is equivalent to creationism (false), connect it to the Religious Right and school prayer (probably true, but among laypeople), connect it to theocracy (huh?), and one who says it is "so boring".

-Stein has a great line as he discovers the Discovery Institute (small) offices: for all the ruckus they've caused, he was expecting something like the Pentagon.

-Paul Nelson makes a great point about science: questions that are not properly answered don't go away. And then Nelson makes a point repeated a few times in the film: privately (or in Nelson's terms, after "three or four beers"), scientists admit the difficulties of Darwinism-- but the public face is uniform and unflinching.

-William Dembski argues that Evolution is "perfectly acceptable", but asks if it's "adequate".
He asserts that it has "valid insights" but doesn't necessarily explain the whole picture.

-David Berlinski is probably the most memorable character on the ID side of the debate. And he makes a great point from his flat in Paris: Before we can say that Darwinism is "correct", we must ask whether it is "clear". He goes on to describe Darwinism as a mess with little precision.

I think this is at the heart of the debate. People have profoundly different meanings for the term evolution (from change within species to a supposedly comprehensive "explanation" for the development of life). And as an aside, very few people have any idea who can enunciate what ID is (including the scientists who oppose "it").

-Stein has some fun with the Darwinian hand-waving about the origins of life: "whatever it was..." and two of the theories. Michael Ruse gets very excited about life beginning "on the backs of crystals". And Stein cites Nobel Prize winner Francis Crick's "pan-spermia" theory where life was seeded here by aliens. Of course, the latter solves nothing [what are the origins of the aliens?]-- and ironically points to ID as a means of testing Crick's hypothesis!

-One ID'er says that, in terms of complexity, the cell is "nothing we've seen in the material world". And another ID'er asks where that information came from-- and notes that natural selection tends to reduce, not enhance, information.

-It was interesting to hear the internal pseudo-debate among Darwinists about whether to be hard-core (e.g., Richard Dawkins and what he sold as his admirably truthful candor) and soft-core (e.g., Eugenie Scott and those who soft-pedal differences between religion and science-- and look for common ground with theists).

-From there, Stein goes into the connections between worldview and science. He provides anecdotal evidence that they are co-determined (or mingled in their determination). Will Provine argues that evolution proves there is no God-- and from there, there can be no morality, free will, or meaning in life. Berlinski argues that Darwinism was a necessary but not sufficient condition for the rise of Naziism. Others point to the obvious connection of Darwinism to eugenics-- and thus, to angles on abortion and euthanasia.

-In a nice follow-up to Provine's beliefs about free will, Stein twice asks his interviewees whether Hitler was insane (lacking free will). The German tour guide at Hadamar says "no, he had his purposes". And Dr. Weikart (author of From Hitler to Darwin: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics and Racism in Germany) says no, he had wrong ideas and extended their bad logic into radical solutions.

-I'm not sure Stein intends this, but the use of the Berlin Wall as a metaphor reminded me of the use of trade protectionism and government regulation as a political wall to protect the status quo from competition. No one likes competition for what they sell-- and Darwinism is presumably no different in this regard. Moreover, those who want to protect the status quo always have good reasons why the limits to competition are in society's best interests. Having seen tons of this in political economy, it makes it easier for me to believe it could be in play here.

-Stein has some fun with Dawkins toward the end. He pesters Dawkins about his atheism. (I'm not sure why he did that or included that.) Dawkins also admits they "we don't know" how such-and-such happened and it "could be that..." blah-blah-blah. And then amazingly, Dawkins speculates (like Crick) about life being seeded from elsewhere in the universe-- AND that one might be able to scientifically detect a signature of a designer, what ID wants to do!

If you're interested in the topic, Expelled is a must-see. (Even if you're not interested, you'd probably still enjoy it.) And if you disagree with Stein, hopefully, you'll look past particulars to focus on Science and Freedom.

I give the film two (opposable) thumbs up!


At April 21, 2008 at 9:19 AM , Blogger William Lang said...


I thought I would re-post my reaction to the movie (which I posted yesterday to your earlier thread on the movie, which has slipped into your blog archives).

Okay, I've seen the movie now. I'm afraid the critics are largely right.

My biggest complaint is that they pretty much gloss over the fact that there are prominent scientists who are deeply religious and pro-evolution; they hardly mention the possibility of theistic evolution. They do everything to make it sound like the scientific establishment versus religion. Another sin of omission is their egregious treatment (non-treatment really) of the Dover ID court case.

They use an irritating Michael Moore-like editing style, using mocking imagery against evolutionists while cutting everything into little sound bites (inviting the suspicion that their editing is tendentious, but depriving the viewer of context and depth). Richard Dawkins and other interviewees claim they were mislead about the intent of the movie, and that their views were not fairly represented by the movie (e.g., Ben Stein gets Dawkins to speculate that aliens created life on Earth). After seeing the movie, I am afraid I don't have much trouble believing this.

Their attempt to make the Holocaust into a logical outcome of a world-view based on evolution was way over the top and deeply unfair.

Anyway, one thumbs-down for this movie.

To this I would add, I've read a bit of background on the National Center for Science Education about the claimed instances of denial of academic freedom in the movie. They claim that these cases are distorted or overblown in the movie. (See, the NCSE site about the movie.)

At April 21, 2008 at 9:37 AM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

Likewise, I'll post my reply to your post here...

The filmmakers don't mention theistic evolution by name-- probably to limit the connections to theism and theology. (What would the critics say about the use of that term?) In any case, Stein certainly covers that angle-- e.g., in the Scott vs. Dawkins "debate" and Dembski's favorable comments about evolution,

Moreover, the film certainly conveys a sense of science vs. religion. But the larger theme is science vs. Science and (academic) freedom vs. restriction and suppression.

They don't deal with any court case in any detail, but they deal with court cases in general (at length).

I agree that the film's style is Moore-like-- for better and for worse.

"Ben Stein gets Dawkins to speculate that aliens created life on Earth?" Huh? Maybe Provine came in and took Dawkins' free will away? ;-)

Finally, I thought they were quite careful to make two points about Darwinism and the Holocaust: Berlinski's necessary but not sufficient condition and Weikart's historical connection between the two. Clearly, from the literature (and intuitively), there is an historical (and contemporary) connection between Darwinism, morality, eugenics, and so on.

I give the movie two opposable thumbs up (pun intended)!

At April 21, 2008 at 11:41 AM , Blogger Joel Harris said...


I sure am glad you are a dork. I didn't have the guts (or foresight) to do that.

You talked about the wall analogy and how your research in protectionism and economics makes the analogy in this context believable to you. My similar experience is in the area of autism research. I have a child with autism and in search of therapies for him we kept running into the idea that there was only one approach that has been "proven to be effective." As we dug deeper, we found that ABA (the "proven"--but ineffective--therapy) has a stranglehold an academia. The therapy approach that we chose has been completely suppressed by academia and the journals by questionable tactics. This is clearly a problem in science. I claim that it has something to do with research funding.

One thought on Dawkins per Lang's critique. I have read Dawkins diatribe on the movie and find the complaint unfounded. He claims he was taken out of context, which is true as any editing will remove the context. But he also claims that it misrepresents his positions, which is clearly does not. Stein left intact Dawkins claim that his idiotic hypothesis of aliens bringing DNA was just a single idea, not necessarily his and just an indication that there are a lot of ideas that we cannot prove. That is Dawkins position, which is well documented. Actually all of the material from Dawkins was all documented in his own books. The ideas were not distorted--just put into video form, which had not been managed before.

At April 21, 2008 at 11:41 AM , Blogger SocioSam said...

I have yet to see the movie. While I will most likely see it, your review does not encourage me to do so. But I do have a couple of comments about your comments.

The first thing makes be want to save my money and time was your comment that the theme of the movie is “freedom.” Freedom to do what? Interject religious teachings into public school science curriculum? That is not freedom, it is a violation of the U.S. Constitution. The Dover ID trial is a good example.

Prior to the trial, The Discovery Institute praised the selection of Judge John E. Jones, a conservative Bush appointee and good friend of Tom Ridge, describing him as “a good old boy brought up through the conservative ranks,” and predicting he would rule in favor of teaching ID in public schools. Such was not the case.

Judge Jones ruled that ID was a religious, not scientific, theory. One piece of evidence was that their textbook, Of Pandas and People, was originally written as a Creationist textbook. After the 1987 Supreme Court ruling that Creationism was religion, not science, a computer program was used to search and replace “Creationism” with “Intelligent Design.” Judge Jones further ruled that the Christian board members had lied under oath, a behavior that troubled him to no end.

The issue is not one of freedom but a constitutional issue of not teaching religious doctrine in tax supported public schools. Contrary to what Stein and the Discovery Institute want us to believe, science does teach the controversies and points out “gaps” in their theories and data. Scientific papers, conference presentations, and discussions over a few beers are full of such discussions.

It is not surprising that major Christian scientists avoided this movie. While Francis Collins has “found” the Christian god, he still believes in evolution and sees this kind of stuff as intellectually dishonest. Over half of the ID witness at the Dover trial, including Behe, failed to appear. And while Kenneth Miller is a proponent of theistic evolution and coauthor of the best selling Biology textbook (Prentice Hall), he thinks Intelligent Design is a fraud a major critic of both Johnson and Behe, referring to his book as “Behe’s Empty Box.”

The crux of the issue is not fairness but the rules of science, and a basic rule is that natural phenomenon must be explained by natural phenomenon. One cannot turn to magic, gods, or supernatural forces to explain how the natural world works.

For example, I cannot explain the sun’s path across the sky be claiming it is the path Apollo takes in his chariot as he drags it across the heavens. Likewise, it is not scientifically legitimate to explain Katrina’s path because God does not like gays and there was a gay parade planned in New Orleans for the following week. Currently, science cannot explain the exact path of hurricanes, tornadoes, and lightning, but explanations about the motives of Gods or supernatural forces are not allowed because they are not testable.

A second concern I have about the film - mentioned in your comments, reviewers (both for and against the film), and Dr. Lang’s comments above is the link between Darwin and the Holocaust. This is most silly and a great distortion of reality. First, humans have been killing each other and often in rather cruel fashion long before Darwin’s theory of evolution ever appeared. Both the Bible and Koran are full of blood and gore inspired but Intelligent Designers. And neither Darwin nor evolutionary scientists are Social Darwinists. These kinds of claims and inferences are disappointing and lack intellectual honesty.

Finally, I love my primate evolved opposable thumbs. While my binocular vision limits my peripheral vision it allowed my ancestors to better grasp branches as they swung through the trees and today make for better free throw and batting averages. And the color vision that makes ripe fruit more visible and emotion reading (e.g., blushing) more accurate makes my world more interesting. Aren’t rainbows beautiful?

At April 21, 2008 at 11:45 AM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

Joel, your comment about research funding takes us back to political economy, especially since much (most?) funding comes the government.

At April 21, 2008 at 12:08 PM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

Sam, I hope you see the movie. It's not as relevant to your career as seeing Billy Graham in action when he was in Louisville. But it's certainly relevant to your interests.

More broadly, I would encourage all people who see Stein's film to see at least one Michael Moore film-- and vice versa. It'd probably be good for society, tolerance, and the like.

With all due respect to you and Judge Jones, ID is not religious. (As I noted, this is a common point of ignorance for both its opponents and lay-proponents. Whether any given opponent knows this or uses it as a convenient straw man, I don't know.) That said, ID has religious implications. But so does Evolution (as a supposedly comprehensive explanation-- not evolution).

ID'ers and their sympathists have (quite) mixed feelings about injecting ID into the government monopoly on education.

As to "natural phenomenon must be explained by natural phenomenon" and "one cannot turn to...supernatural forces to explain how the natural world works", the movie notes that Crick and Dawkins violate this principle in an astounding manner.

I agree with you that one cannot explain the sun’s path with Apollo or Katrina's path with God's wrath toward a particular sin. moreover, one does not *explain* the origins and development of life with "God did it." But neither can one *explain* the origins and development of life with a bunch of vague just-so stories, hand-waving, "we don't knows", and "it could be thats". I agree with you completely. I just wish you could help me get the Evolutionists to recognize the same limits.

The links between Darwin, Darwinism, Social Darwinism, eugenics, abortion, and Nazism each have some noise in them, but they are quite compelling as primary explanations. It would be absurd to deny either the noise or their primary place.

Finally, the issue is not murder per se, but motive. Of course, a variety of motives might be equally heinous. But to deny Darwinism its rightful place on this unfortunate shelf (along with religious or other personal animus) would be-- well, unfortunate.

At April 21, 2008 at 1:45 PM , Blogger William Lang said...

Joel: Stein left intact Dawkins claim that his idiotic hypothesis of aliens bringing DNA was just a single idea, not necessarily his and just an indication that there are a lot of ideas that we cannot prove. That is Dawkins position, which is well documented.

Eric: As to "natural phenomenon must be explained by natural phenomenon" and "one cannot turn to...supernatural forces to explain how the natural world works", the movie notes that Crick and Dawkins violate this principle in an astounding manner.

Eric and Joel, it should be pointed out that Dawkins does not believe that aliens created life on Earth. He was in fact offering that idea as an implausible explanation of life, because it begs the question of the origin of life—i.e., what created the aliens? Dawkins believes that "organized complexity" (life, aliens, deities, etc) cannot exist at the beginning but can only evolve over time.

At April 21, 2008 at 2:34 PM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

Stein took Dawkins that much out of context? That would be disappointing. It sure didn't seem that way at the time. And Dawkins seemed quite serious in fleshing out how that hypothesis would be prone to analysis by ID.

In any case, it's something for people to watch for when they go to see the movie.

And maybe not Dawkins, but Crick...

At April 21, 2008 at 3:06 PM , Blogger Joel Harris said...

William: you wrote: "it should be pointed out that Dawkins does not believe that aliens created life on Earth. He was in fact offering that idea as an implausible explanation of life"

That was my point as well. Stein left in the part where Dawkins said that there is no way to know how matter/life began. Dawkins said in the movie that if you were to assume that there was intelligence behind the design that the alien theory is one way that it could come about, but that intelligence would have to have used evolution to come about in the first place. THAT WAS IN THE MOVIE. Stein did NOT take Dawkins out of context. What he did is used that quote to show how far Dawkins is willing to go to keep his assumption in place that there could NOT have been any intelligence at the beginning of the universe, etc.

At April 21, 2008 at 3:40 PM , Blogger Joel Harris said...

Eric, I forgot to mention that I completely agree with you on the political economy stuff regarding what is going on here. Science would actually be well-served if the government got out of the funding of research.

It would have the side benefit (:-) of actually being Constitutional as well.

At April 21, 2008 at 4:29 PM , Blogger William Lang said...

Joel, thank you for clarifying your comment about Dawkins.

Concerning your comment about government-funded science research, I thought I might offer a little background (if not justification) for that funding. I believe that government support of science research began in earnest in the WWII era. It was an outgrowth, in part, of the Manhattan Project. That project, and certain other high-technology R&D efforts (the B29 bomber and the breaking of the German Enigma code, which involved early work in digital computing) hastened Allied victory in the war. The government naturally realized that vigorous support of science was imperative. Science has great economic and public health implications as well. What is remarkable is that the new policy of supporting science was already mapped out in 1945, in the famous 1945 Vannevar Bush report Science: The Endless Frontier.

At April 21, 2008 at 9:29 PM , Blogger Joel Harris said...


I would agree that certain R&D probably falls within the realm of the Constitution--specifically research critical to defense. But how much--even some justified by defense spending--has been done that has nothing to do with the defense.

In my opinion, "health" is not covered in the Constitution. In fact, I cannot fathom any other area than defense that would cover it. I would argue that even climate studies are not Constitutional.

As it exists today, so much College level research has federal funding in it. Every few days we hear of strange studies that you know would never have been done without Federal funding. What a waste of our tax money.

At April 21, 2008 at 10:42 PM , Blogger William Lang said...


I honestly don't know whether a government enterprise such as biomedical research is really constitutional or not. But I've always understood that the role of government should be to support the kinds of pure science that are not of immediate benefit or profit to private enterprise, research that private enterprise would therefore not pursue. Applied science and R&D, because it is directed to specific goals (e.g., develop a new weapons system), is less likely to result in unexpected breakthroughs. In that way, pure science is the true source of progress in science. The history of science is filled with examples of research done simply out of curiosity that led to extraordinary breakthroughs. Now a lot of pure science sounds pointless. Often, it is. But no one knows where the next world-changing breakthrough will come from, so our best guide is to trust scientists and their best judgments. (Ben Stein's movie gains the most traction precisely where he shows threats to academic freedom; as he points out, freedom of inquiry drives scientific progress.)

Of course, I'm going to argue for government support of research, since I'm a mathematical scientist who works at a public university. <grin>

At April 21, 2008 at 11:12 PM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

Both of your comments fit into what an economist would call a "public good"-- not a good consumed by the public, but a good that features "non-excludability" (people can consume without paying) and thus, a "free rider problem" (people can free ride off contributions by others).

This is a problem (to some extent) in a variety of areas, including research. And public goods are an area where the market *can* struggle to provide the optimal/efficient amount. (That said, markets are often quite successful in providing "public goods"-- radio, fireworks, church services, computer software, etc.)

It's a theoretical and empirical question-- the extent to which any given research falls in this category. If it can be protected under patent or copyright, then incentives to produce profitable research should be sufficient. But if not...

And as always, one must weigh market struggle against govt struggle. Having the govt involved-- in general or in particular-- may end up causing more problems than are solved.

Constitutionally, this comes closest to the "general welfare" clause. As long as research subsidies are not drifting into the "specific welfare" of individuals or interest groups, then it may well pass constitutional muster.

At April 21, 2008 at 11:30 PM , Blogger SocioSam said...

First, Darwin and most evolutionists do not deal with the origins of life. Darwin’s book was titled, Origin of Species, not Origins of Life.

While one might argue that “pure ID” is not religious, the Dover trial showed, their textbook, “Of Panda’s and People” was originally written as a Biblical science text. As a foundation for science, the Bible and holy books in general are seriously lacking. The Bible suggests the earth has corners, is circled by the sun, and tell us nothing about the Americas. Science figured out the earth is a sphere, circles the sun (which is itself a star), which is one of two billion suns in the Milky War galaxy, which is one of at least a billion galaxies. Scientists have also discovered quasars, black holes and a number of phenomena not mentioned in holy books. And on the small end they tell us more than holy books about cells, elements, protons, and electrons.

Second, a problem with both Creationism and Intelligent Design is that neither offer any practical solutions for dealing with human problems or blueprints for technology. Science, on the other hand has been very successful.

Evolutionary theory is used to control pests and molds that attack our food supply, create vaccines that protect us from disease, breed animals that produce more milk and meat, match parents and children, catch criminals and free the innocent. What has ID done for use lately?

As for technology, ID has not given us faster computers, more miles per gallon, stopped tall building from falling down, sent men to the moon, cloned a cat, made a better light bulb, or brewed a good beer.

ID is a “theory” with no practical use.

At April 22, 2008 at 12:45 PM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

I agree that Darwin and most evolutionists do not deal with the origins of life. But it's still an important scientific question-- especially for the atheist.

ID doesn't have a textbook. In Dover, some laypeople used a (young earth?) "creationist" text. But that should not be laid at the feet of ID scientists. And again, I am among many who think ID does not belong within the government's monopoly on education.

On the Bible suggesting the earth has corners and is circled by the sun-- I wish I could get you to read the Scriptures in a (far) less wooden, literal and fundamentalist manner. Sam, you won't be able to vote for Obama unless you get that fixed!

Whatever the practical merit of ID, ID does not require the dissolution of evolution (or a reduction of evolution beyond its true bounds), so that's a red herring. Moreover, why is practicality an essential criterion for judging a theory?

At April 23, 2008 at 3:06 AM , Blogger Patrick Roberts said...

just saw Expelled myself; Ben Stein's goal in making this flick (i gather) was not to win any popularity contests (this by itself helps to validate his message)... his goal was to promote free thought, especially more thinking about motivations that drive American academia and a lot of other behind-the-scenes worldview that we tend to take for granted.

At April 24, 2008 at 3:01 PM , Blogger SocioSam said...

Check out this review of the movie.

At April 24, 2008 at 3:32 PM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

Not much to it...

He doesn't say much of substance about ID, but seems confused about the distinction between ID and creationism.

A lot of ad hominem stuff-- entertaining but...

The persecution of Sternberg may be oversold. (That seems to be the case most discussed-- and presumably, opponents are picking on the weakest arguments/points.) But why would Wilson not choose a stronger "for example" like Gonzalez instead-- you know, in the name of making strong arguments?

The reference to censorship of evolution at Christian schools is odd and counter-productive for his argument. By engaging in a comparison of moral equivalence, he ends up making his side look bad too.

Last thing: Wilson says, "given enough chances, it’s inevitably for highly improbable things to occur"

Really? Is that a scientific explanation or even a scientific claim?

At April 30, 2008 at 4:56 PM , Blogger Jaakonpoika said...

Stein is under heavy attack for 'exaggerating' or 'going easy' on the influence of evolutionism behind Nazism and Stalinism (super evolution of Lysenkoism in the Soviet Russia). But the monstrous Haeckelian type of vulgar evolutionism drove not only the 'Politics-is-applied-biology' Nazi takeover in the continental Europe, but even the nationalistic collision at the World War I.

Catch 22: Haeckel's 140 years old fake embryo drawings have been mindlessly recycled for the 'public understanding of science' (PUS) in most biology text books until this millennium, although Haeckel's crackpot raging Recapitulation/Biogenetic Law and functioning gill slits of human embryos have been at the ethical tangent race hygiene/eugenics/genocide, infanticide, and Freudian psychoanalysis (subconscious atavisms). Dawkins is the Oxford professor for PUS - and should gather the courage of Stephen Jay Gould who could feel ashamed about it.

Some edited quotes from my conference posters and articles defended and published in the field of bioethics and history of biology (and underline/edit them a 'bit'):

The marriage laws were once erected not only in the Nazi Germany but also in the multicultural states of America upon the speculation that the mulatto was a relatively sterile and shortlived hybrid. The absence of blood transfusion between "white" and "colored races" was self evident (Hailer 1963, p. 52).

The first law on sterilization in US had been established in 1907 in Indiana, and 23 similar laws had been passed in 15 States and sterilization was practiced in 124 institutions in 1921 (Mattila 1996; Hietala 1985 p. 133; these were the times of IQ-tests under Gould's scrutiny in his Mismeasure of Man 1981). By 1931 thirty states had passed sterization laws in the US (Reilly 1991, p. 87).

So the American laws were pioneering endeavours. In Europe Denmark passed the first sterilization legislation in Europe (1929). Denmark was followed by Switzerland, Germany that had felt to the hands of Hitler and Gobineu, and other Nordic countries: Norway (1934), Sweden (1935), Finland (1935), and Iceland (1938) (Haller 1963, pp 21-57; 135-9; Proctor 1988, p. 97; Reilly 1991, p. 109). Seldom is it mentioned in the popular media, that the first outright race biological institution in the world was not established in Germany but in 1921 in Uppsala, Sweden (Hietala 1985, pp. 109). (I am not aware of the ethymology of the 'Up' of the ancient city from Plinius' Ultima Thule, however.) In 1907 the Society for Racial Hygiene in Germany had changed its name to the Internationale Gesellschaft für Rassenhygiene, and in 1910 Swedish Society for Eugenics (Sällskap för Rashygien) had become its first foreign affiliate (Proctor 1988, p. 17). Today, Swedish state church is definitely the most liberal in the face of the world.

Hitler's formulation of the differences between the human races was affected by the brilliant sky-blue eyed Ernst Haeckel (Gasman 1971, p. xxii), praised and raised by Darwin. At the top of the unilinear progression were usually the "Nordics", a tall race of blue-eyed blonds. Haeckel's position on the 'Judenfrage' was assimilation and Expelled-command from their university chairs, not yet an open elimination. But was it different only in degree, rather than kind?

In 1917 the immigration of "defective" groups was forbidden even in the United States by a law. In 1921 the European immigration was diminished to 3% based on the 1910 census.
Eventually, in the strategical year of 1924 the finest hour of eugenics had come and the fatal law was passed by Congress. It diminished immigration to 2% of the foreign-born from each country based on the 1890 census in order to preserve the "nordic" balance in population, and was hold through World War II until 1965 (Hietala 1985, p. 132).

Richard Lewontin writes:“The leading American idealogue of the innate mental inferiority of the working class was, however, H.H. Goddard, a pioneer of the mental testing movement, the discoverer of the Kallikak family,
and the administrant of IQ-tests to immigrants that found 83 % of the Jews, 80% of the Hungarians, 79% of the Italians, and 87% of the the Russians to be feebleminded.” (1977, p. 13.) Finnish emmigrants put the cross on the box reserved for the "yellow" group (Kemiläinen 1993, p. 1930), until 1965.

Germany was the most scientifically and culturally advanced nation of the world upon opening the riddles at the close of the nineteenth century. And she went Full Monty.

Today, developmental biologists are anticipating legislation of laws that would define the do’s and dont’s. In England, they are fertilizing human embryos for research purposes and pipetting chimera embryos of humans and monkeys, 'legally'. The legislation should not distract individual researchers from their personal awareness of responsibility. A permissive law merely defines the ethical minimum. The lesson is that a law is no substitute for morals and that dissidents should not be intimidated.

I am suspicious over the burial of the Kampf (Struggle). The idea of competition is innate in the modern society. It is the the opposite view in a 180 degree angle to the Judaeo-Christian ideal of agapee, that I personally cheriss. The latter sees free giving, altruism, benevolence and self sacrificing love as the beginning, motivation, and sustainer of the reality.
Biochemist, drop-out (Master of Sciing)


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