Is it possible to ‘falsify’ Darwinism or neo-Darwinism? The ongoing confusion of S. Joshua Swamidass regarding ideology vs. science.

Computational biologist & MD Joshua Swamidass continues to misunderstand ideology. Whether he does so intentionally or not, it reveals a rather important social problem of pseudo-knowledge being presented as knowledge simply because it is being said by a natural scientist. Swamidass has multiple times claimed that “Darwinism was falsified by population genetics back in 1968” (https://discourse.peacefulscience.org/t/darwinism-falsified-in-science-long-ago/4325). Yet he still doesn’t seem to understand that one cannot actually ‘falsify’ Darwinism. That is the wrong language (likely based on an outdated view of Karl Popper’s notion of ‘falsifiability’) that is rather harming than helping the conversation.

One can only argue, strongly or weakly, visibly or invisibly, against Darwinism, whether or not one uses an alternative ideology to do so. Likewise, one cannot falsify Marxism. One can, however, argue against it. Indeed, non-Marxists and anti-Marxists do this often and regularly. Yet they haven’t ‘falsified’ or erased Marxism (or neo-Marxism) and likely won’t succeed in significantly reducing it for a long time, evidence that there are still many self-proclaimed Marxists & neo-Marxists in universities today, especially in the social sciences and humanities departments (cf. Jordan Peterson’s ‘corrupted universities’ hypothesis). Similarly, there are many people who still promote ‘Darwinism’ and ‘neo-Darwinism’ and who write ‘confessionally’ about ‘Darwinism’ as a kind of worldview today, regardless of the population genetics work of Kimura and others. Swamidass’ lack of understanding about ideology has led him to pretend that he can scientifically reject ideology, which is both myopic and simply wrong.

Darwinian evolution, i.e. Darwin’s natural scientific theory of evolution, however, and later, the ‘neo-Darwinian synthesis’ or ‘modern evolutionary synthesis’ (MES), could potentially be overcome with an alternative ‘strictly scientific’ theory of change-over-time in natural history. The so-called ‘extended evolutionary synthesis’ (EES) is being claimed as doing just that. Yet what one doesn’t see much in Swamidass’ writing that one finds regularly in the writings of IDists and of EES proponents, is legitimate push-back against specifically Darwinian evolutionary theory. No doubt the IDists would like to see Joshua write more about how he believes Darwinian evolutionary theory is now obsolete or how it has been improved upon such that a *different name* should be used nowadays to identify the current type of evolutionary theory that is most accepted in biological sciences. Yet Joshua’s ideology seems to hold him back from doing this, while he promotes evolutionary science and even sometimes evolutionist ideology in defense of his evangelical anti-YECist worldview.

“Darwinism rejects all supernatural phenomena and causations. The theory of evolution by natural selection explains the adaptedness and diversity of the world solely materialistically.” – Ernst Mayr

Gary Hurd is correct when he writes: “The generalization of of [sic] Darwin’s core ideas about natural selection, and common ancestry most certainly have not been falsified.” Thus, the term ‘generalized Darwinism’ was made (cf. Levit, Hodgson, Vromen, Knudsen, Thomas, et al.), usually for applications of ‘evolutionary science’ outside of biology. The ideologues are running amok in evolutionary biology as well as in economics! Let’s not even talk about ‘universal Darwinism’ (coined by Dawkins 1976/83?) as if that offers a sustainable or coherent view of reality, when it is merely a cover for ideological materialism, naturalism & usually either atheism, agnosticism or anti-theism.

However, there is no name associated with a post-Darwinian ‘synthesis’ (the late Lynn Margulis perhaps most well-known) that would give the EES ‘name brand’ credibility, which is likely in part why the EES has yet to catch on broadly among biologists.

When Swamidass writes the following, however, it should be treated as nonsense, not as a credible position or worth taking seriously: “Kimura replaced Darwinism in 1968. No need to make up a pseudo history. Neo-Darwinism as understood within science was falsified a long time ago.” People simply shouldn’t listen to Swamidass’ pseudo-philosophy when he wanders so far outside of his fields of competence, as he so often does nowadays on his PS website. Indeed, many IDists clearly understand this much better than Swamidass does, given that they have evidently paid more attention to philosophy of science than Swamidass has from his ’empty chair.’

TSZ’s Mung, however, also confuses the terminology, when he asks: “The question I have is, if Neo-Darwinism has been falsified why is it still the reigning paradigm in biology?” Sorry Mung, but neo-Darwinism always was and still is an ideology, while evolution is the reigning paradigm in biology. Dembski, Behe, Meyer, et al. get this wrong as well, since they treat ‘Darwinism’ as ‘strictly scientific’, and thus paint themselves into a unnecessary corner of incredulity involving evolutionary theories. Once one starts addressing post-Darwinian biology with appropriate terminology, more positive thinking on the topic can take place, which to their credit, IDists have actually tried to do, however, over against their predominantly negative arguments against ‘evolution’ and misnamed ‘Darwinism’.

To set the record straight, Darwinism is an ideology, neo-Darwinism is an ideology and ‘evolutionism’ is an ideology. Evolutionary theory is part of biological sciences. Let me therefore issue yet another warning about this ambitious ‘science vs. religion’ activist in St. Louis who is muddying the communicative waters with his misunderstanding of ideology. Be careful not to let people like Swamidass mangle the English language in order to suit their own neo-creationist, quasi-YECist ideologies as if this is ‘simply good science.’ It is not science. He is in fact just hawking his uninformed opinions as if they count as ‘scientific’ and showing obvious confusion about ideology, including apparently, his own. Will he correct himself or continue to misrepresent the conversation as a ‘fifth voice’ who claims to be bringing revolutionary ‘peace’?

Unfortunately, Swamidass’ scientistically pretentious strategy is simply not going to work. To Mung, he writes: “Yes, defer to the scientists here. That will resolve it.” This kind of ‘Me-Scientist-Man’ arrogant statement reveals just how much work is needed to be done to help natural scientists who are ignorant of ideology finally realise what they’ve been missing that makes all the difference in the conversation.

Let me try to be clear in attempting to be fair to Swamidass that I believe one of the biggest challenges to constructive dialogue with people in the science, philosophy and theology/worldview discourse broadly construed is the general lack of knowledge and understanding about ideology among participants. It is not only Dr. Swamidass who misses the mark, but rather a general condition in North America due to public school teachings that don’t address ideology and thus leave people almost entirely ill-equipped to deal with it, even when most required.

“[I]f we do not resist the idea of Darwinism as a universal principle, biology literally eats itself as it becomes like a racing driver who, to avoid friction, chooses tyres that are so smooth they offer no resistance.” – Connor Cunningham

387 Replies to “Is it possible to ‘falsify’ Darwinism or neo-Darwinism? The ongoing confusion of S. Joshua Swamidass regarding ideology vs. science.”

  1. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: In what way is selecting m&ms not selectingm&ms?
    […]
    I wonder why they co-opt words they don’t mean at all?

    Darwin thought ‘selection’ was a good word, by analogy, and it kind of caught on. You don’t like it, pick another. Do the m&m’s change behaviour when you do that?

    In my own version of the ‘questioning internal monologue’ gambit, I wonder why opponents spend so much effort on words, and so little on concepts?

  2. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    OMagain: I wrote the m&m code used in the example on this site. There is no “selector”, unless you mean “pick one at random”. Is that what you mean by selecting? Pick one at random?

    How do you know that some mysterious force is not guiding the “selector”?

  3. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan Miller: Darwin thought ‘selection’ was a good word, by analogy, and it kind of caught on. You don’t like it, pick another. Do the m&m’s change behaviour when you do that?

    In my own version of the ‘questioning internal monologue’ gambit, I wonder why opponents spend so much effort on words, and so little on concepts?

    Ok, how about not-selected. Because that’s what evolutionists mean when they say something is selected right?

    So in the future, I think whenever someone says “selected” or “selection” when they talk about evolution, the other person should immediately respond, “You mean “not-selected”?

    Evolution by Natural Not-Selection. The amazing creative force.

  4. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo,

    Say we give you the opportunity to take one of two choices, A or B. If you choose A, do you not also reject B? What’s hard to comprehend here?

  5. OMagain
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: Ok, how about not-selected. Because that’s what evolutionists mean when they say something is selected right?

    What’s an evolutionist? What does that make you?

    phoodoo: So in the future, I think whenever someone says “selected” or “selection” when they talk about evolution, the other person should immediately respond, “You mean “not-selected”?

    What you think actually matters much less then you might imagine. For instance, if what you describe above actually starts happening then your opinion matters more then I imagined.

    If I observe such I’ll be sure to point it out for you.

    phoodoo: Evolution by Natural Not-Selection. The amazing creative force.

    All you have to do is demonstrate the true creative force behind biology and shame us all for our silly misunderstandings.

  6. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan Fox: Say we give you the opportunity to take one of two choices, A or B. If you choose A, do you not also reject B? What’s hard to comprehend here?

    I am not sure what a choice between A or B has to do with evolution, but let’s just be clear.

    The concept of Natural Selection is actually saying, if you don’t choose something often enough, you will create really advanced, intricate systems.

    Ha. Now I see why your side doesn’t say what it really means.

  7. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: Ok, how about not-selected.Because that’s what evolutionists mean when they say something is selected right?

    So in the future, I think whenever someone says “selected” or “selection” when they talk about evolution, the other person should immediately respond, “You mean “not-selected”?

    Evolution by Natural Not-Selection.The amazing creative force.

    Yeah, well done, that’s some good wordplay right there. Now, what happens to the tendency to fix a single colour once you’ve done that?

  8. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: I am not sure what a choice between A or B has to do with evolution, but let’s just be clear.

    The concept of Natural Selection is actually saying, if you don’t choose something often enough, you will create really advanced, intricate systems.

    Ha.Now I see why your side doesn’t say what it really means.

    And yet it really doesn’t say what you say it says. You actually have to misrepresent it in order to defeat it. Clap-clap-clap.

  9. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan Fox: I’m not convinced Matthew had developed his idea in print enough for it to have been much help to Darwin

    Well, Wallace obviously disagrees with you as I quoted above from the link Joe sent & I trust Wallace more than you with your apatheistic ‘axe to not grind.’

  10. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan Miller: Darwin thought ‘selection’ was a good word, by analogy, and it kind of caught on. You don’t like it, pick another. Do the m&m’s change behaviour when you do that?

    In my own version of the ‘questioning internal monologue’ gambit, I wonder why opponents spend so much effort on words, and so little on concepts

    Opponents of ideological Darwinism? Words, without concepts?

    It’s not as simple as just (randomly or intentionally) picking another word. Darwin saw this himself. I’m not going to dig into his autobiography to find it now, but I recall him somewhat regretting ‘natural selection’ – due to its ‘agent-like’ status without an Agent – similar to the ‘Invisible Hand’ of a market that is not a personal agent – yet being resigned to continue using it due to popularity. This is the same kind of thing George Murphy, Cameron Wybrow & others have said to me in their older age, resigned to use terms that they actually don’t like (much like the younger Swamidass is still sticking his low-grade philosophy to ‘methodological naturalism’ though he thinks it’s not the right term). Why not tell us which ‘alternative concept’ you think might be suitable because a lot depends on how accurate a term is for what it claims to be describing?

    Likewise, Darwin eventually accepted Herbert Spencer’s language of ‘survival of the fittest’, though he started with Malthus’ ‘struggle for life.’ These Victorian era concepts don’t fare well in discussions nowadays. Playing a science demarcation game by insisting on a ‘strictly scientific’ definition of SotF here usually doesn’t fare well either. https://www.thoughtco.com/survival-of-the-fittest-1224578

  11. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory,

    I think the concept is sufficiently well distilled by ‘population resampling’. Selection is biased resampling ; drift with no selection is unbiased resampling. Of course, some people immediately think of agency when confronted with both ‘bias’ and ‘sample’. But they are wrong.

  12. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan Miller,

    That terminology won’t gain much currency. And it would require taking a HUGE amount of air out of the lexicon of biologists. I don’t see it working, but would applaud the attempt to shrink the hyper-inflated rhetoric we see coming from evolutionary biology to the current day.

    Swamidass’ insistence on using ‘Darwinism’ isn’t that remarkable. Given that he has been shown a better way and not taken it, instead choosing to share the ideological vocabulary of IDists as his own, reveals a lot about his gullibility to ideologues, such as the YECists he grew up with and is surrounded by, outside of his university work.

  13. OMagain
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: Ha. Now I see why your side doesn’t say what it really means.

    Great. May I suggest that you take this valuable information to a more popular venue? This significant development cannot be understated. I have no doubt there are people out there willing to pay you money to expand upon this.

    By the way, what “side” do you think people are on? What “side” are you on?

  14. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory:
    Allan Miller,

    That terminology won’t gain much currency. And it would require taking a HUGE amount of air out of the lexicon of biologists. I don’t see it working, but would applaud the attempt to shrink the hyper-inflated rhetoric we see coming from evolutionary biology to the current day.

    It’s not really for biologists, but for those who wish to make over-much of the common word choices, or perceive logical distinctions when they are merely lexical ones. Biologists, especially evolutionary ones, know what ‘selection’ and ‘drift’ refer to, and can use the terms without claiming perpetual confusion. But another way of saying it, indicating what is really going on – sampling of finite populations, with and without bias – might help someone with an interest in grasping the concepts to do so. Those are obviously a rarity in these parts.

  15. BruceS
    Ignored
    says:

    The Philosophy of Social Evolution

    ETA: fixed link. It’s the last section in the description of this just-posted NBN interview that caught my eye. The rest seems part of the the debate about the possibility and relative roles of mechanisms in biological evolution, like group selection.

    (I also deleted the “Uh-Oh”, which was not as funny upon editing as it seemed upon posting).

  16. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    BruceS,

    Please affix link. Yes, well aware of superficial so-called ‘social evolution’ talk. Is it Robert Trivers again? Biologists talking about ‘societies’ is usually awkward & dehumanising due to their training that lacked the actual study of people, groups & communities (not just ‘populations’). So many poseurs & ‘natural science popularisers’ with ‘social science envy’ these days!

  17. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan Miller,

    Biologists distorting what most people mean by the verb ‘to select’ & ‘selecting,’ as well as ‘selection’ is a major issue here. Surely we agree with that?

    If biology is treated as being just one small field, rather than as being hyper-important to understand ‘life’, you’ll be onto something. Inflated biologism is such a problem that most biologists don’t realise even exists in their enthusiasm speaking about their discipline. All I’m asking for is a reasonable sense of proportion in the discussion, instead of idiotic biologists misusing ‘selection’ ideas & forcing them into social sciences & humanities, where agency, purpose, teleology, goal-orientation and planning are both widespread & disciplinarily ‘normal.’

    Selection without a Selector/selector & ‘design without a designer’ are complete non-issues in SSH. Why we should slump down & reduce the conversation to mere biology is just crazy talk, when higher levels of discourse are widely available. See David Sloan Wilson as one example guilty of reductionism among far too many. It’s time they got called out on their disciplinary arrogance and hegemonic attitude towards fields of knowledge that remain sovereign on their own & add their own important contribution to human understanding.

  18. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory,

    Biologists distorting what most people mean by the verb ‘to select’ & ‘selecting,’ as well as ‘selection’ is a major issue here. Surely we agree with that?

    It’s an issue for people who wish to cast the subject in a bad light, for the most part. It should not impede understanding for those who wish to understand – even if, with hindsight, a better term could have been chosen. Someone explains what selection in biology means, and still people go on about it! Whaddya want, blood?

    It is very common that science takes a word with a colloquial meaning and uses it for a technical term. The alternative is a neologism and descent into jargon. See the related issue of ‘random’ in mathematics, for example. Or the use of ‘recruit’, which has two separate meanings in biology, to my knowledge, neither of which accords directly with the colloquial one but is nonetheless meaningful. Or the homology ‘search’ that takes place during recombination. Should they have said ‘schnibble’ instead?

  19. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan Miller,

    “a better term could have been chosen” … i.e. selected.

    Agreed.

    I wish to cast the subject in proper light, not merely to reduce the discussion to a single academic field so that ideologues like Swamidass can toot their own horns, champions by definition before the discussion even starts.

    “Someone explains what selection in biology means, and still people go on about it! Whaddya want, blood?”

    No. I would like justice & proportion. Sanjay can make his swoon call for ‘peace IN science’ till the birds return to roost; that’s a specialist conversation fit for faculty lounges, not blog posts.

    Sociobiology was a vicious dehumanising attack by E.O. Wilson on the sovereignty of sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, economics, political science and religious studies. Healing from those hegemonic aims & apologies from biologists would be welcome. Memetics was a similar disgrace that still many biologists promote simply because they haven’t studied alternatives that were already long available in social sciences. Will you apologise for memetics & admit what a nonsense idea it was? If not, we’ve still got a serious problem that is going largely unaddressed by biologists, from whose ranks the attacks have come.

    “It is very common that science takes a word with a colloquial meaning and uses it for a technical term.”

    Fine. Then the roots of the term ‘evolution’ has a strong theistic tradition, dating back to the Cambridge Platonists. Theistic evolution has a widespread history & is still a valid position today, which is obviously not ‘strictly scientific.’ Not to mention that Gregor Mendel surely wasn’t an atheist ideological evolutionist, though he believed in ‘mutation.’ This is not a discussion we should listen to that crazy minority of non-mainstream evangelical protestant ‘creationists’ about, when instead there are TONS of thoughtful people who accept biological evolution and live ‘rational’ religious lives as monotheists.

    Technical usage of ‘biological evolution’ is largely a specialist discussion & isn’t what matters most in the ‘general conversation’ we’re having here.

    It’s ideology that frames this entire conversation, not merely biology! Do you get that or do you instead wish to crawl back into a ‘strictly science’ conversation, which would quickly become boring and insular to just the few biologists themselves? If you’re a biologist, Allan, then all I can say is: you’re in the vast minority here. Do you disagree?

  20. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    “science takes a word”

    No, people take words. Some people (a rather small few) are scientists. The notion that ‘science’ itself chooses is anthropomorphic. Please improve your communication for accuracy. Thanks.

  21. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan Fox: I was doubting phoodoo claiming not to know any Creationists, nothing to do with whether he himself is Christian.

    Phoodoo was being sarcastic, pretending to not understand the meaning of a word, and in that sense not knowing anyone who met the definition of a Creationist.

    The comment about “not a Christian” was directed at OMAgain and the reference to cocks crowing. In essence accusing phoodoo of betraying Christ. A somewhat meaningless barb if phoodoo isn’t a Christian.

  22. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: And what happens when something that isn’t selected has a positive effect on reproduction?

    Everything is selected. The hand of selection is everywhere and at all times selecting. It sees everything. It knows everything. The ignorant among us call it the Hand of God, but in reality, it is the Hand of Nature.

    Positive, Negative, Neutral. It’s all Natural Selection.

  23. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan Miller: Junk DNA, for one..

    I prefer neutrally selected DNA.

  24. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan Fox: Say we give you the opportunity to take one of two choices, A or B. If you choose A, do you not also reject B?

    Don’t you select B to be the one not selected?

  25. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung,

    “The ignorant among us call it the Hand of God, but in reality, it is the Hand of Nature.”

    Careful, or you’re about to bust out into a hymn: “Nature’s got the whole world in Nature’s hands, got the whole wide world in Nature’s hands, got the whole world in Momma Gaia’s hands, got the whole world in Nature’s hands!” = P

  26. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory:
    Allan Miller,

    Technical usage of ‘biological evolution’ is largely a specialist discussion & isn’t what matters most in the ‘general conversation’ we’re having here.

    But it is that specialist discussion to which my preceding comments were directed. If people dismiss the underlying biological concepts simply because of confusion caused by the words used to denote them, that is something to address directly, irrespective of any wider concerns one may have.

    It’s ideology that frames this entire conversation, not merely biology! Do you get that or do you instead wish to crawl back into a ‘strictly science’ conversation, which would quickly become boring and insular to just the few biologists themselves? If you’re a biologist, Allan, then all I can say is: you’re in the vast minority here. Do you disagree?

    I am in the minority in the sense that most aren’t biologists, or that most people aren’t interested in the technical? Well, both I guess. But technical issues continually come up, so someone must be interested, and it tends to frame my responses. Someone makes a technical error, or an interpretation of data I disagree with, it’s all I can do to resist responding. As to ideological usage – your interest – I’ll keep my eyes peeled.

  27. Entropy Entropy
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan Miller,

    The problem is that Gregory mixes both the technical and the “ideological” without making any clarifications, and, often, the theme seems to be about the technical rather than the “ideological.” Gregory loves interrupting discussions about the technical, with “ideological” crap without clarifying that he’s talking about “ideological” things, thus derailing conversations, and confusing the creationists, who end up thinking that Gregory is saying that all of evolutionary science is mere ideology. So, I’m not surprised that you’d think that some comments were technical in nature.

    I leave Gregory alone for the most part because he seems unable to leave the “technical” aspect alone, or to actually differentiate it from the supposedly ideological stuff he’s obsessed with.

  28. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    “Gregory absolves interrupting discussions about the technical, with ‘ideological’ crap”

    Nope. Please show where you imagine that I’ve done this. It isn’t what I do.

    The scare quotes around ‘ideological’ would seem to reveal you don’t believe it even exists – LOL! This is the state of education, sadly it seems. Avoid talking about it & it will just go away.

    Let’s keep it simple, using as few words as possible, so the few biologists here can understand things more easily & not get confused.

    Scientific (technical) terms = Darwinian evolution, neo-Darwinian evolution &/or modern evolutionary synthesis, even extended evolutionary synthesis (with more controversy)

    Ideological terms = Darwinism, neo-Darwinism or evolutionism

    Apparently that clear distinction is soooo difficult for the biologists, that they need to ask for a clearer rundown? = P

    “I am in the minority in the sense that most aren’t biologists”

    Yes, that’s correct, a vast minority.

    I wrote:

    “Sociobiology was a vicious dehumanising attack by E.O. Wilson on the sovereignty of sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, economics, political science and religious studies. Healing from those hegemonic aims & apologies from biologists would be welcome.”

    Notice, not a peep from the biologists about this? Just as if it didn’t happen.

    “As to ideological usage – your interest – I’ll keep my eyes peeled.”

    What are your peeled eyes seeing now with that in front of them? Nothing to say about the BLATANT ideology when it’s staring straight at you? Or do you just go hush & silent now as if biologists only speak science & never ideology?

    Is there any ashamed biologist out there for what E.O. Wilson tried to do with sociobiology? For what Dawkins did with nonsense ‘memetics’? For what D.S. Wilson is now doing? Any biologist who would like to face up to this crap? Why the silence when the evidence is clear & obvious?

  29. Joe Felsenstein Joe Felsenstein
    Ignored
    says:

    Yes, for a while it looked as if Gregory’s complaint was about the invalidity of using concepts from biology when studying … biology. He did finally clarify that he wasn’t actually questioning that.

    If one is going to complain about “selection” being a bad word to use, even in biology, then what about “evolution”? Which originally meant an unrolling, as if a predetermined sequence of events were happening.

  30. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    “He did finally clarify that he wasn’t actually questioning that.”

    Thanks. I don’t mean to tell biologists what terms to use for their own studies. That’s up to them. “All words. in every language, are metaphors” anyway.

    What about you, Joe? -> Sociobiology, memetics, the exaggeration of biological concepts beyond biology’s borders? D.S. Wilson & ‘evonomics’?! What are your thoughts about them?

    I’m sincerely curious to hear from biologists about what they think of their colleagues like D.S. Wilson who are obviously using biology for their own ideological purposes. This is not some rare activity. It is common & prolific among some.

    Will you defend the integrity of biology by calling these ideological biologists folks out or perpetuate the misuse by not mentioning it as an actual problem?

  31. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung: Don’t you select B to be the one not selected?

    Then you double select A to be the one selected.

  32. petrushka
    Ignored
    says:

    Joe Felsenstein:
    Yes, for a while it looked as if Gregory’s complaint was about the invalidity of using concepts from biology when studying … biology.He did finally clarify that he wasn’t actually questioning that.

    If one is going to complain about “selection” being a bad word to use, even in biology, then what about “evolution”?Which originally meant anunrolling, as if a predetermined sequence of events were happening.

    Determinism seems to mean exactly that.

  33. Joe Felsenstein Joe Felsenstein
    Ignored
    says:

    petrushka:

    [me]: then what about “evolution”? Which originally meant an unrolling, as if a predetermined sequence of events happening.

    Determinism seems to mean exactly that.

    I think the idea behind the term was more like orthogenesis — a built-in directional change, rather than selection, migration, and genetic drift acting on a population variation.

  34. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory,

    Is there any ashamed biologist out there for what E.O. Wilson tried to do with sociobiology? For what Dawkins did with nonsense ‘memetics’? For what D.S. Wilson is now doing? Any biologist who would like to face up to this crap? Why the silence when the evidence is clear & obvious?

    Haha. All biologists must be held responsible for – or at least ‘call out’ – that which other biologists do. That is reminiscent of the tarring of all Muslims with atrocity. My silence does indeed ‘speak volumes’, as kairosfocus would express your last.

  35. DNA_Jock
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory,
    You are coming across as envious, is all.

  36. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan Miller,

    “All biologists must be held responsible for – or at least ‘call out’ – that which other biologists do.”

    You could share your thoughts about it, at least, as a biologist.

    Among evolutionary biologists, the majority of whom are atheists, agnostics, and not a few anti-theists, the promotion of sociobiology, memetics and evolutionary psychology isn’t a secret. I have found it rare to see biologists themselves write against sociobiology and memetics. Richard Lewontin is an exception with his “Biology as Ideology.”

    Do you not reject sociobiology and memetics, Joe & Allan Miller?

    The more biologists who seek to maintain the integrity of their own field by rejecting the ideological distortion of their science, the better, as far as I’m concerned. It’s not like you don’t see me pushing back strongly and unequivocally against YECists here, after all!

    The silence of Joe Felsenstein on this topic speaks volumes as far as I’m concerned.

  37. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    DNA_Jock,

    A much better comparison. Siding with extension & development over evolution & memetics makes a lot of sense. It’s folks like DNA_Jock who make evolutionary biology look as ideologically distorted as it often is.

  38. Neil Rickert
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan Miller: Haha. All biologists must be held responsible for – or at least ‘call out’ – that which other biologists do. That is reminiscent of the tarring of all Muslims with atrocity.

    Life in Gregory’s world!

  39. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    Neil Rickert,

    Sad but true that evolutionary biologists promoting their ideological view and claiming it is ‘just science’ is a major problem in the contemporary academy. They’re the polar opposite of YECists, both who claim their ‘science’ is unbiased. But since people like Neil have conditioned themselves to not address ideology, they remain blind to this feature of the discourse. Oh well.

  40. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    I quite liked Lanier’s takedown of Dennett’s ridiculous ‘evolution of culture’ & memetics approach in the comments here: https://www.edge.org/conversation/the-evolution-of-culture

    The leading philosophists of TSZ seem to like Dennett. I consider him just silly & not worth the time to read.

    Development, emergence, extension & revolution are all examples of non-evolutionary change that take positive formulation, rather than just negative ‘evolution isn’t the right term’. Yet asking people to think through the consequences of adjusting their vocabulary to incorporate better ideas, especially when they’ve anchored their worldview (atheism or agnosticism) into a single term ‘evolution’ doesn’t usually bear immediate results. Let them think about it for a while, then come back & see if their ideological evolutionism is such a wise idea. This is where IDists & evolutionists share much in common; obsession with a term that most people simply don’t wish to idolise as they do.

  41. Neil Rickert
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory: Sad but true that evolutionary biologists promoting their ideological view and claiming it is ‘just science’ is a major problem in the contemporary academy.

    Yes, some biologists are more ideological than I like. But that the way that humans are.

    I’ll note that I have long been a skeptic of both sociobiology and of memetics.

  42. DNA_Jock
    Ignored
    says:

    Interesting graphic, Gregory.
    Interest in “development” dips each year over the Christmas holiday, almost as if the searches were work-related.
    Interest in “extension” peaks dramatically in mid-April each year. That’s a puzzler.
    😮
    Research, you are doing it wrong.

    Done correctly, HPS and sociology are important.

    Are you part of the ‘contemporary academy’, Gregory?

    ETA: that spike in interest in “evolution” was driven by the launch of Pokemon Go.
    Research, you are really

  43. BruceS
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory:

    The leading philosophists of TSZ seem to like Dennett. I consider him just silly & not worth the time to read.

    I would agree that he is not on solid ground in any scientific claims related to memetics. But I do not dismiss all of his thinking because of one bad idea.

    I see memetics as a scientific research program falling into domains of anthropology and sociology. But not a successful one, based on my limited knowledge. Same for evolutionary psychology.

  44. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    Neil Rickert: I’ll note that I have long been a skeptic of both sociobiology and of memetics.

    Thanks. Me too.

  45. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    DNA_Jock,

    Tax filing extension?

    I’ve done more research on this topic than you’ll ever do. If you don’t wish to respect that, it’s on you & makes no difference to me.

    Thanks for the trends reminder; I hadn’t done that in a while. Seeing this image doesn’t require me to become an IDist, since I reject IDism, even as a ‘graduate’ of the DI’s summer program. It does help to put ‘evolution’ into proper perspective & helps to reject ideological evolutionism as just as distorted & disproportional as always highlighting ‘design’ by ideological IDists.

    A little prayer might do you some good DNA_Jock, taking yourself out of the centre of your universe for a change & focussing on what is more important in life. Might also lead you to less regular attacks on me simply for being an Abrahamic theist as a bonus, who knows. ; )

  46. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    BruceS: I would agree that he is not on solid ground in any scientific claims related to memetics. But I do not dismiss all of his thinking because of one bad idea.

    I see memetics as a scientific research program falling into domains of anthropology and sociology.But not a successful one, based on my limited knowledge.Same for evolutionary psychology.

    It’s more than just one bad idea wrt Dennett. His dependence on ideological evolutionism appears nearly total, e.g. “Freedom Evolves”. Memetics doesn’t even count as bad anthropology & sociology. It was just a dumb idea from Dawkins, made facetiously to rhyme with ‘gene’ & ‘genetics’ that seemed attractive to some people on the surface. Thankfully, the Dawkins’ hype has largely passed. Sadly, the echo of ‘memetics’ still lingers on among a few people like Dennett & Blackmore.

    What do you consider as Dennett’s most important contribution to philosophy that isn’t simply an outgrowth of his atheist worldview? Iow, what of value do you think Dennett has contributed to human thought that could/should be accepted by religious theists?

  47. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    “Scientism exalts the idea of science on its own, causing people to become fixated on the assumptions that seemed scientific to them during their formative years. This prevents them from seeing contrary facts, however glaring they may be, that have been noticed more lately.” – Mary Midgley (Are You an Illusion, 2014)

  48. BruceS
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory:

    What do you consider as Dennett’s most important contribution to philosophy that isn’t simply an outgrowth of his atheist worldview? I

    Well, for starters, I separate the ideology of the origin of his ideas from the subsequent evaluation of those ideas for philosophical merit and fecundity.

    Among his ideas that have influenced the philosophical debate: intentional stance, multiple drafts model of mind, Cartesian theatre, homunculi, intuition pumps, syntax versus semantics engines, quining qualia, illusionism as a theory of phenomenality, the normative model of the mind, and, yes, free will and its appropriate metaphysical consideration. There is also his general rejection of a metaphysics unlinked to science or empiricism and his support for embedding philosophy of mind firmly in the cognitive sciences, and not something outside of science.

    I am not saying he was right, or that all of these are ideas are currently active in the community; only that they have been judged by philosophers to be valuable contributions.

  49. Neil Rickert
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory: The leading philosophists of TSZ seem to like Dennett. I consider him just silly & not worth the time to read.

    I disagree with a lot of what Dennett says. But I do think he is worth the time to read. For one thing, he does explore wild ideas. Often, he explores them far enough to reveal their absurdity. Even if Dennett doesn’t always see that absurdity himself, the exploration seems worthwhile.

  50. Neil Rickert
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory: Yet asking people to think through the consequences of adjusting their vocabulary to incorporate better ideas, especially when they’ve anchored their worldview (atheism or agnosticism) into a single term ‘evolution’ doesn’t usually bear immediate results.

    I’m not sure why you seem to insist on connecting atheism and agnosticism to evolution. May I suggest that more people have become atheists due to reading the Bible, than due to reading Darwin.

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