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How about putting Darwin on the tax bills instead?

Well, Bill sure put Darwin’s big E (eugenics) out there for everyone to see ,

The reckless, degraded, and often vicious members of society, tend to increase at a quicker rate than the provident and generally virtuous members. Or as Mr. Greg puts the case: “The careless, squalid, unaspiring Irishman multiplies like rabbits: the frugal, foreseeing, self-respecting, ambitious Scot, stern in his morality, spiritual in his faith, sagacious and disciplined in his intelligence, passes his best years in struggle and in celibacy, marries late, and leaves few behind him. … “

… and wouldn’t you know that the squalid, unaspiring Irishman has hardly sobered up from the Feast of St. Patrick, when …

The thing about human eugenics is that it was a fundamentally confused idea, to which Darwin lent his prestige, and his prestige helped both the idea and the confusion immeasurably. Essentially, if you believe the idea that Darwin took from Malthus (natural selection or survival of the fittest), the logical conclusion is that the careless Irish are doing the right thing if they end up outnumbering everyone else. Or anyway, they are not obviously doing the wrong thing. The fact that the others might not like the Irish and might say unkind things about them is only to be expected, and is irrelevant in the long run.

I wrote about this in By Design or by Chance?:

Darwin’s theory of natural selection does not provide a basis for the Social Darwinists’ eugenic beliefs. Natural selection does not suggest any specific direction for evolution. Depending on the circumstances, for example, an abandoned slum child might be far better adapted for survival than a sheltered piano prodigy. However, natural selection can be twisted to meet an existing social agenda. (p. 72)

The reality is that the eugenicists really had a different agenda all along. They were not trying to help nature figure out who the fittest were. They were trying to advance the interests of their own group – in Darwin’s case, upper class Brit toffs and the Scots they admired – by creating artificial problems for others. What they really did was starve, gas, or sterilize people that “natural selection” had never condemned because their culture condemned those people. People choose various methods for advancing their own group, and eugenics was a particularly ugly one.

Darwin was being truer to his own theory when he worried that vaccination was causing the weakest and the worst sort of people to survive:

There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

(Quoted in David Stove, Darwinian Fairy-tales (Aldershot: Avebury 1995) p. 9, quoting from Darwin, c. (1874) The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (2nd edition) John Murray, London, Vol. I, pp. 205-6.)

There, at least, Darwin had enough sense to see that if natural selection could really do anything like what he had hoped, it should just be left to itself. No vaccination, no sterilization. But he can’t quite say no to eugenics and let nature take its course. His eugenic beliefs make quite clear that neither he nor anyone else in his circle really believed in the power of natural selection.

I think the best place for Darwin’s mug right now is the tax bills. The evidence deficit for Darwinism and other forms of materialism piles up day by day, a worthy representation of a government deficit. 

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One Response to How about putting Darwin on the tax bills instead?

  1. We cannot understand much of the history of late 19th and early 20th century anthropology, with its plethora of taxonomic names proposed for nearly every scrap of fossil bone, unless we appreciate its obsession with the identification and ranking of races. For many schemes of classification sought to tag the various fossils as ancestors of modern races and to use their relative age and apishness as a criterion for racial superiority. ~ Stephen Jay Gould

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