The year 2009 has been the sesquicentennial celebration of Darwin's great book On the Origin of Species. Biologists, among many others, have been happily praising the luminous figure usually shown in old age as a bearded sage. Not many scientists turn out to be correct after 150 years, so Darwin's greatness certainly depends in part on the truth contained in his theory of evolution by natural selection.
Yet his immense fame has been working against him in the era of Obamania and frantic efforts to create or claim equality where human nature may pose insurmountable barriers. The truth about Darwin is being submerged in the multicultural phantasmagoria enveloping our culture.
For example, Smithsonian magazine's February, 2009, edition had Darwin and Lincoln on the cover, insinuating that Darwin was a champion of equality. The theory of evolution allegedly implied the oneness of man, so we are reassured that Darwin was an egalitarian.
Smithsonian was not alone in misrepresenting Darwin. A new book called Darwin's Sacred Cause, by Adrian Desmond and James Moore, (authors of an earlier Darwin biography) belabored Darwin's anti-slavery position at the expense of his very clear depiction of real racial differences. Of course, the theory of evolution does indeed imply that all races of man derive from a common ancestor and are surely genetically similar. But the large amount of variation among the races impressed Darwin to the extent that he worried about what he thought was the problematic nature of inter-racial mating
It is therefore significant that Takimag.com, a noted conservative website, published an essay that supported the thesis that Darwin's work actually undergirds political conservatism more than it does liberalism. Indeed, Matthew Roberts of Takimag refers [Darwinian Traditionalism, February 14, 2009] to a classic article by John O. McGinnis from the pre-purge National Review[The Origin Of Conservatism, December 22, 1997], which offers a powerful argument for Darwinian biology as a foundation for conservatism. The question of theology has proven a problem for Darwinism for over a century. However, my purpose here is to take only one of McGinnis's points, natural inequality, and show why it is a critically important part of the culture wars.
Despite egalitarian liberals' ferreting through materials to present Darwin as their champion, he was nothing of the sort. His own England would arrest him for hate speech today—just as they nearly did the Nobel laureate James D. Watson in 2007 when he discussed the black/white IQ difference of 15 points. This is why Stephen Jay Gould, the ultimate proselytizing egalitarian, compartmentalized the "good" and the "bad" Darwin.
There is very real danger when politics trumps science, as it did in the former USSR. Truth was often suppressed under Stalin. Our Constitutional guarantees theoretically provide a measure of protection against any president or party who might attempt political suppression in the name of "greater good" but in these plague times of economic stress and a leftist government in power, it could be tempting to engage in manipulation of genetic research, for instance, to ensure that the myth of equality is safely perpetuated.
After all, who could have imagined that massive government efforts to "equalize" all children through education would grow exponentially even as earlier efforts were clear failures! Romantic dreams die hard, and educational dreams seem to involve a special measure of irrationality. Charles Murray in his Real Education tried to bring America to its senses, but the Obama administration will obstruct any reforms aimed at truly meritocratic schooling.
The irrational efforts to fit square pegs into round holes reflect the blind adherence of the social sciences—with the exception of Ernest van den Haag, James Q. Wilson, and a handful of others, to the SSSM or Standard Social Sciences Model of inquiry, based upon environmentalism. For half a century, the social sciences have disregarded the growing force of modern genetics uncovering our human nature and allowing us to understand evolution in deeper ways. As "blank slaters" who place their trust in environmental factors above genetic ones, these social sciences perpetuate the myth that we can be whatever we wish and that learning can be powerfully affected by trivial factors without regard for IQ.
Most Americans have little or no knowledge of the biology of race and are subjected to the egalitarian chorus from a MSM that protects the inequality taboo. Liberal disinformation thrives on college campuses and indoctrination into social justice values are mandated on many campuses.
The irrational hubris and deep hostility of the militant left should never be underestimated. Their 2008 presidential victory provides the political mandate for experiments in social engineering they have dreamt about for decades.
Recently, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, Richard Nisbett, [Email him]writing in the New York Times, expressed the liberal utopian hope that Obama will select research programs with proven "payoff" for government support because he believes that some programs will bridge the IQ/achievement gap between whites and blacks. One example he gives: a "still unpublished" study in which adult learners took the Graduate Record Exam before and after the Obama election victory, with blacks (naturally) doing much better after the victory! [Education Is All in Your Mind February 7, 2009]
Nisbett here shows a complete ignorance of the 50 plus years of research on "the gap" with no study showing lasting gains of any value. The "Obama Effect" is an artifact that would never bear close scrutiny by psychometricians, just as all the other studies found no lasting, real effects.
While several other Nisbett favorites show some promise they demand unrealistic manpower and money to sustain in a real world environment. But the point is that mission to equalize the races academically knows no bounds and serves as a supreme temptation for massive social engineering. In the poisonous atmosphere of what Richard Bernstein called "The Dictatorship of Virtue ", we cannot trust the MSM and academia to tell the Darwin story as it really was.
The mass movement to "equalize" society quite simply lacks a scientific basis and, in fact, is built upon a premise denied by Darwin. Races not only exist, but they are different in very deep ways that may well descend to the moral foundation of humankind.
By that I do not mean that one can treat people of different races in unfair ways, but that the races themselves show variations of ability to be honest. All other factors being equal, some groups are more dishonest than others. Dishonesty correlates highly with crime, so one expects blacks, with their very high crime rate, to demonstrate more dishonest behavior than Asians and whites-which is exactly what they do on things like student loan default rates. IQ, aggression, and impulsivity show systematic racial differences, as well.
I discussed these differences in my book called Apes or Angels? Darwin, Dover, Human Nature, and Race, a work which is widely viewed as subversive even with the endorsement of world-renowned scientists. The hypocrisy of liberal scientists is on display as some websites, such as Pandas Thumb, refuse to discuss my book while Smithsonian freely misrepresents Darwin to the chorus of approval from the left.
As late as May 18, 2009, I saw Al Sharpton in front of the White House doing his demagoguery on national cable television. This time it was not to defend black thugs and murderers but to demand "equal results" from the educational establishment. (Fortunately for thinking people, Carl F. Horowitz wrote a sterling indictment of Sharpton as a street hustler and modern racial demagogue.)
The claim that evolution produces human "oneness" is misleading. Natural selection, genetic drift, and sexual selection do eventually result in variation among divergent populations separated by geography. Evolving populations eventually differ so much from their antecedents that they can no longer interbreed successfully. They have become new species. With Homo sapiens we see 150,000 years of evolution in and beyond Africa. From about 50,000 years ago human populations left Africa on a diaspora that encompassed much of the earth.
Look at the vast variety of types in Africa today to appreciate the ability of evolution to generate differences due to adaptation. Whole continental races retained unique genome characteristics that evolved under different selection pressures. Among the traits that varied were intelligence, lactose tolerance, and disease resistance. Darwin, living long before modern genetics, could only use anatomical information and observations of behavior as bases for his thinking on race, but modern research supports him nonetheless.
In his 1871 book The Descent of Man, Darwin addressed the issue of race directly. Long before our PC era, Darwin had the luxury of worrying about only one enemy, Christian fundamentalists who were angered by the implications of evolution for belief in the Bible. Finding racial differences were actually less controversial in Victorian times because few people believed in complete equality.
Darwin was indeed an abolitionist and hated the slavery he witnessed in Brazil on a coffee plantation. However, this belief did not prevent him from observing human differences and speculating on how they came to be. Just as he could not exempt humans from evolution, he could not exempt the races from the natural effects of selection pressures in different locations. Since intelligence and character were important traits subject to change, he was not surprised at the differences he found.
In their recent book The 10,000 Year Explosion, Greg Cochran and Henry Harpending argue that evolution in humans accelerated over the past 10,000 years. This claim is based upon careful genome analysis of two quite large groups in Africa and Europe. Natural selection operated more quickly as human populations underwent changes in metabolism, disease resistance, and skin and eye color. The authors also establish the fact that Ashkenazi Jews became smarter than all others via strong selection pressures on IQ. If IQ can be affected in one group it was very likely affected by the different requirements in various continental environments, some of which had extensive agriculture while others did not. Steve Sailer has written courageously about the reality of racial differences in IQ and Cochran and Harpending suggest that such differences are not at all surprising given the enormous ecological differences of the various continental environments, as well as cultural determinants such as agriculture that likely affected personality and cognition.
Cochran and Harpending have drawn fire for opposing the liberal myth of human equality. They discuss dozens of ways that the races differ genetically and leave it to the reader to decide who is right.
Watching basketball on TV forces everyone to acknowledge black superiority, a superiority blacks themselves often openly flaunt. Whites have little choice but to cede certain sports to blacks on the basis of merit but they themselves have been denied full recognition of their academic superiority out of militant ideological fanaticism.
Remember the Bolsheviks? Will reason, good will, and tolerance triumph in the Age of Obama? A fair and honest America will put aside its notorious "inequality taboo" and embrace a color blind meritocracy?
Charles Darwin's view of race was both sympathetic and realistic. He is a model of good sense in a time of liberal foolishness. Biological and political theories do not readily fit together and the act of hijacking Darwin is fraught with difficulties. However, Darwinism does support the conservative view that human nature is not equal nor infinitely malleable and is based upon an image of man as self-interested yet altruistic toward one's own kin.
Madison, one of our founding fathers, worried that government could be used as a mechanism for redistribution of property. Given natural inequality, lesser citizens will engage in self-deception rather than acknowledge weakness. They accuse others of holding them back. The demagogues of the left move in.
If Obama is our Sisyphus, he will throw billions more at a hopeless mission against which Darwin and genetics would counsel.
One thing is certain: science and liberalism cannot both be right.
Cornelius J. Troost [Email him]was a professor of science education at UCLA and chair of graduate studies at Brock University in Ontario, Canada. While at Brock Dr. Troost created an MA degree program in environmental education. He also worked on critical thinking tests for the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.