Home » Darwinism, Mind, Neuroscience » Psychiatrist slammed in National Geographic publication for signing Dissent from Darwinism statement

Psychiatrist slammed in National Geographic publication for signing Dissent from Darwinism statement

Jeffrey Schwartz, psychiatrist and author, specializes in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorders, using a “mindfulness” approach (becoming aware of and responding to one’s thoughts before acting them out). This approach has been helpful in obsessive-compulsive disorders, notoriously difficult to treat. He is best known for coaching Leonardo DiCaprio for his role as reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes (who suffered from OCD) in The Aviator.

Discover Magazine recently released a book by Steve Volk about Schwartz, OBSESSED: The Compulsions and Creations of Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz. In a review rife with putdowns, Virginia Hughes, the reviewer for National Geographic’s “Phenomena” has this to say:

What’s never mentioned, however, is that in accepting Christ, Schwartz also seems to have rejected evolution. He is one of several hundred scientists to sign A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism, a document put together by the Discovery Institute, a conservative Christian think tank that lobbies for creationism. The signatories of that document, including Schwartz, endorse the statement: “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life.”

With that kind of public rejection of a fundamental law of biology, is it any wonder that some scientists are skeptical of Schwartz’s other ideas? And doesn’t his alignment with creationists deserve at least a mention in a story of his scientific career?

Jeffrey Schwartz is a character, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know. But ultimately, the man’s obsessions corrupted his work—and Volk’s work, too.

There are so many misrepresentations here that it is hard to know where to begin, but let’s start with the fact that no one claims that neo-Darwinian theory (natural selection acting on random mutation) is a “fundamental law of biology.” It is a theory of events in biology, not an explanation of what must happen (a law).

Suffice to say, Virginia Hughes, and Maia Szalavitz who “contributed much to the reporting and thinking behind this review” fully fit Tom Bethell’s characterization of “Aren’t I good?” girls. In fact, when it comes to Darwinian evolution, they are better than the best. Because they have no idea what they are talking about and wouldn’t care if they did. They needn’t. They need only demonstrate enthusiasm.

By the way, nearer a thousand scientists have signed A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism. It isn’t difficult to do, if you know anything about the subject. Darwin was wrong about a lot of things 150 years ago, and his followers are wrong about a lot of others today. But then the tenured Darwinists do have the aren’t-I-goods on their side. On must assume that counts for much.

Update: Jeff Schwartz writes to say,

Basically I signed the statement to support the people being attacked for questioning neo-Darwinism, and because neo-Darwinism denies free will (by which I mean the human capacity to make choices about how to direct and focus attention) and I think free will influences evolution.

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose

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4 Responses to Psychiatrist slammed in National Geographic publication for signing Dissent from Darwinism statement

  1. LOL. The aren’t-I-good girls? This is both harsh and hilarious.

  2. As it happens, it’s also sadly true. Lynn Margulis (who often spoke against Darwinism) would be a better role model.

  3. “With that kind of public rejection of a fundamental law of biology, is it any wonder that some scientists are skeptical of Schwartz’s other ideas?”

    Remember, Ms. Hughes, that science once held fundamental laws including bodily humors and phlogiston. Scientific theories are based on the evidence available, as interpreted by imperfect people. In the case of paleontology (the study of fossils)—and archaeology—much of the evidence is mutilated, lost or difficult to interpret. And the scientists who make the interpretations often have strong opinions about what the evidence will prove.

  4. “fundamental law of biology”

    If they say this enough times then perhaps they can convince everyone that it is true. Equal with Dawkin’s continued mantra that “evolution is a scientific fact” (which fails to make a distinction between observed speciation and universal descent).

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