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Darwin was a racist


Forums Forums Science and Technology Darwin was a racist

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 20 total)
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  • #332808
    @lausten
    Keymaster

    Here’s an interesting, (I hope) convergence of science and culture. I got in an argument on Melissa Chen’s facebook page. She’s a historian and activist who sometimes take some controversial stances, like maybe we shouldn’t coddle kids on campuses. Anyway, she said something about how we should keep Darwin as an icon for the advancement of science, and not allow his outdated ideas on religion and even race to diminish his work. This included acknowledging his Europe centric culture as a requirement for his making those breakthroughs. That’s how I saw it anyway.

    I said its fine to acknowledge the man, but let’s also not claim that his advancements could have only come out of the time and place that they did. Her and her minions kept saying that I wanted to discount Darwin’s genius, which I don’t think I did. To me, simply looking at the timing tells you something. The expedition happened because Ecuador had just claimed the islands as part of their country. Essentially colonialism. In the preceding centuries, universities had flourished in Europe because of the conquering and grabbing of riches that had been going on, from the knowledge gathered in Baghdad to the money made from the slave trade. I didn’t mention these things specifically because I knew they’d put us off topic.

    Is there a way to promote the idea of a world of ideas waiting for anyone to discover, instead the old idea of white European men figured out everything, without getting too deep into the politics? It seems like the question can’t even be asked in a way that makes sense. It’s like asking how can you can talk about history with bringing up the past?

    #332809
    @lausten
    Keymaster

    Amazingly, I actually found the thread. Translate “Lausten” in to “John Wolforth” there.

    I understand her aversion to “wokeness”, but I think she sometimes over applies it.

    I thought I made a pretty good point here, but it was summarily dismissed,

    If Darwin never lived and Europe never existed, but we still cared enough about each other to not be at constant war, evolution would still be authored by someone. In fact, if the Holy Roman Empire didn’t exist, someone would have probably figured it out earlier. Or who knows, maybe someone did and some monk erased the work and wrote a hymn over it or something.

    I’m saying the European culture also suppressed knowledge, specifically evolution in fact. Maybe the reference to monks erasing science, something that really happened was lost on them.

    #332815
    @thatoneguy
    Participant

    Is there a way to promote the idea of a world of ideas waiting for anyone to discover, instead the old idea of white European men figured out everything, without getting too deep into the politics? It seems like the question can’t even be asked in a way that makes sense. It’s like asking how can you can talk about history with bringing up the past?

    Definitely impossible to do on social media. It seems pretty much impossible now in academia.

    Wokeness and science, wokeness and history don’t mix at all because a big part of being woke is bending reality to a certain ideological frame, and if we say intellectual integrity matters then wokeness must go.

    #332818

    I don’t know about the ‘racist’ trop but to your

    Is there a way to promote the idea of a world of ideas waiting for anyone to discover, instead the old idea of white European men figured out everything, without getting too deep into the politics? It seems like the question can’t even be asked in a way that makes sense. It’s like asking how can you can talk about history with(out) bringing up the past?

    Without being political?  Hell, you can’t talk basic medical common sense without being called political these days.

    As for your original musing,

    What about Wallace developing the same idea at a slightly later date, because he was studying the same sorts of evidence, and because he was also primed with the same sorts of previous speculation, including that of, Erasmus Darwin, 😉    as scientist of some repute a couple generations before Darwin.  We only know of him because he spurred Darwin to publish and Darwin was decent enough to give credit where credit was due, and include Wallace as a “co-discoverer.”    But, there were others thinking about it and gathering evidence.

    In hindsight the concept of Natural Selection seems so simple, so inevitable, but the ideas took a lot of time, generations to be enunciated.  Seems self-evident that someone would have come up with it, after all, besides refinements and harmonic additions, it stand pretty strong since no one has come up with any better ideas.

    Who knows how many others during that period were working on very similar trains of thought, circumstance did not favored them, so we never heard of them, they simply became part of the debate, also rans, and then moving on to different problems.

     

    It’s not like there wasn’t this particular chestnut that the greater scientific community was grappling with – where did all the species come from and disappear to?

    #332819
    @thatoneguy
    Participant

    I said its fine to acknowledge the man, but let’s also not claim that his advancements could have only come out of the time and place that they did. Her and her minions kept saying that I wanted to discount Darwin’s genius, which I don’t think I did. To me, simply looking at the timing tells you something. The expedition happened because Ecuador had just claimed the islands as part of their country. Essentially colonialism. In the preceding centuries, universities had flourished in Europe because of the conquering and grabbing of riches that had been going on, from the knowledge gathered in Baghdad to the money made from the slave trade. I didn’t mention these things specifically because I knew they’d put us off topic.

    I don’t see how anyone can say time and place does not play a big part in science. Somebody might have come up with some idea about evolution long before Darwin but if so they didn’t do anything with it.  Darwin did the work and pursued the theory because he lived at a time when that British enlightenment (or whatever it’s called) cared about things like that.  Darwin’s Britishness probably was very important to the theory of evolution.

    As for the talk of “colonialism” — I don’t think that mattered in Darwin’s case as he was what they called a  gentleman scientist.

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by thatoneguy.
    • This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by thatoneguy.
    #332835

    Somebody might have come up with some idea about evolution long before Darwin but if so they didn’t do anything with it.

    Nothing.  Just wrote a book that put it into a certain publics mind and make it part of the discussion and consideration.

    Fossils were being found all over that had many talking and thinking about the puzzle.

    You call that nothing?

     

    Guy, thank your god we had Britain to invent agriculture for us.

    #332836

    😉

    #332855
    @thatoneguy
    Participant

    Nothing.  Just wrote a book that put it into a certain publics mind and make it part of the discussion and consideration.

    Fossils were being found all over that had many talking and thinking about the puzzle.

    You call that nothing?

    Of course ancient humans noticed old bones, so what?

    Give some examples of a pre-Darwin theory of evolution.

    #332864

    I gave you one Erasmus.

    Sorry don’t have the time to do your homework today, but I have a great suggestion.

    Why not try googling:

    “evolution ideas that predate Darwin”

    bet you’ll learn something.

    Well, if you’re open to learning . . .

    #333026
    @widdershins
    Participant

    Many people we look up to in history were very racist.  Gandhi got very upset every time people would mistake the dark skin of an Indian for being…I won’t use the word he liked to us.  In a speech about freeing slaves Abraham Lincoln told a funny, funny joke about how he “wouldn’t marry one!” and got big laughs for it.  He was also not for equality.  He saw no way in which that would work.  In his perfect world, they would all go back to Africa, though he acknowledged that was not realistic, nor was it fair to ask it.

    “It was a different time” is the excuse my Jehova’s Witness friend uses all the time to excuse the words in the Bible.  In his case, that doesn’t excuse the words of God himself.  But when it’s people talking, it’s a totally valid excuse.  We are products of our upbringing.  We can overcome that, but not until AFTER someone points out to us that it’s a problem.

    #333050
    @lausten
    Keymaster

    I just finished the 1619 project podcast. Highly recommend it. I was never quite sure about the stuff about Lincoln, but the podcast talks about a commission of emigration, that is, a group of white guys who wanted to help the freed slaves get back to Africa. They met with some ex-Slaves in the short period called “Reconstruction”. The slaves gave their ideas some thought, although not much, because their answer was “no, they don’t want to go anywhere”. They were born here and they love their country and its principles and want that country to live up to them. It actually makes them much more patriotic than just about anyone else at the time.

    #333095
    @widdershins
    Participant

    We often don’t think just how different the general mindset was back then.  Hell, it astounds me how different the mindset today is from what it was in the ’80s when I grew up concerning gay people.  It was nothing to call your friend a “fag” as an insult back then.  The thought never crossed our minds that this was in any way insulting to gay people, it was our friend we were insulting.  Today, you think about that last sentence for a second and you almost have to say, “Okay, I see it now”, but back then, right over our heads.

    If anyone is interested what I posted about Lincoln was mostly from his September 18, 1858 speech before the fourth debate between Lincoln and Stephen Douglass for the US Senate in Illinois.  The first half of the first paragraph is blatant, disgusting racism, which at the time was seen as blatant and disgusting for not being racist enough.

    The second half of the first paragraph is actually a lot more interesting, from a purely political standpoint.  The language Lincoln used to make fun of his opponent, I’ve seen that in modern politics.  And the fearmongering he was making fun of, I’ve seen that too.  Lincoln may have called himself a Republican back then, but the second half of that first paragraph is him making fun of what I, at least, clearly recognize as the same Republican fearmongering used against gays in the fight against marriage equality.  His opponent (or someone, I’m bad with names) was apparently fearmongering that if you freed the slaves it would lead to a slippery slope of equal rights and interracial marriage immediately.  To them, back then, that was terrifying.  To us today, of course, the slop wasn’t nearly slippery enough.  But it’s fascinating to see the same political fearmongering and point-scoring system in play 150 years ago.

    #333163
    @timb
    Participant

    Who cares if Darwin was even a black transsexual slave owner?

    His ideas about evolution, that he passed on to us, is what matters.

    #333168
    @widdershins
    Participant

    You know the drill.  Anyone theists don’t like they find some way to attack them.  Hitler was an atheist by their claims.  Their proof?  “No good Christian…”

    #333486
    @timb
    Participant

    Well individuals of the past were products of their time and their life environments. That’s just how it works.

    Today, in our time and life environments, for example, most of us think that Black Lives Matter  as much as anyone else’s lives.

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