Re: On the occasion of Darwin's birthday

Discussion in 'General Fitness' started by [email protected], Feb 14, 2006.

  1. On 12 Feb 2006 21:52:41 GMT, DZ <[email protected]> wrote:

    >Fisher's book "The Genetical Theory of Natural
    >Selection", has been called the deepest book on evolution since
    >Darwin.


    According to Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_Fisher
    Fisher was "an ardent promoter of eugenics."
    In The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection, Fisher " presented a
    theory that attributed the decline and fall of civilizations to its
    arrival of a state where the fertility of the upper classes is forced
    down. Using the census data of 1911 for Britain, he showed that there
    was an inverse relationship between fertility and social class.
    Therefore he proposed the abolishment of the economic advantage of
    small families by instituting subsidies (he called them allowances) to
    families with larger numbers of children, with the allowances
    proportional to the earnings of the father."

    Between 1929-1934, Fisher played a prominent role in the campaign by
    the Eugenics Society for a law permitting voluntary sterilization. The
    Society believed that this should be viewed as a right, not as a
    punishment. At http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Ronald_Fisher one
    can find the opinion that Fisher "was more into positive eugenics than
    negative eugenics, i.e. he thought that those of good birth should
    have lots of children (needless to say, he followed this through!) but
    without the nasty reigning in of the breeding of the unwashed masses."

    It is unclear whether Fisher ever served as a paid consultant for the
    Bitish tobacco industry. In any event, he "advocated that correlation
    does not imply causation in the relationship between smoking and lung
    cancer." (I can say he was wrong about this, but I still can't find
    a bookie that will allow me to place bets on horse races after they've
    ended.)

    IUnless the fundamentalists succeed in rewriting the definition of
    science, scientists should welcome the opportunity to discuss and
    debate evolutionary theory in a public forum. If spirited public
    debate over evolution had started a long time ago, perhaps Clinton and
    his handlers would have realized that his rampant womanizing was
    a violation of a near universal taboo against infidelity. This, in my
    opinion, was the primary reason why so many Americans initially turned
    against Clinton, Gore, and the Democratic Party and placed their trust
    and faith in Bush and the Republican Party..

    I only wish that astrobiologists would enter the fray. I think the
    public would be entertained by hypotheses regarding the origins of the
    building blocks of life and how life might expand beyond its planet of
    origin. Religion, after all, suggests that God (the Creator) is
    external to life, a supernatural being who "lives" outside this world
    and periodically invades it in a miraculous way. I'm not suggesting
    that astrobiology be given exaggerated prominence in order to win
    potential converts among those who think that evolutionary theory with
    its emphasis on "chance" represents a huge threat to their religious
    beliefs. However, to the extent that astrobiology is a legitimate and
    serious scientific discipline, airing the views of astrobiologists
    might serve to reduce some of the public hostility towards science
    (and, therefore, some of the appeal of politicians who exploit this
    hostility.

    II'm also not suggesting that scientists should be venerated.
    Basketball players play basketball. The opinions of the best of them
    on non-basketball related subjects should be taken with a grain of
    salt. Fisher was a genius whose work laid the foundations for
    population genetics. That doesn't mean that everything brilliant
    scientists say on subjects outside their fields of specialization
    shouldn't be seriously questioned.










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  2. DZ

    DZ Guest

    [email protected] wrote:
    > DZ wrote:
    >> Fisher's book "The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection", has been
    >> called the deepest book on evolution since Darwin.


    (http://www.genetics.org/cgi/content/full/171/2/415)

    > According to Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_Fisher
    > Fisher was "an ardent promoter of eugenics." In The Genetical
    > Theory of Natural Selection, Fisher " presented a theory that
    > attributed the decline and fall of civilizations to its arrival of a
    > state where the fertility of the upper classes is forced down. Using
    > the census data of 1911 for Britain, he showed that there was an
    > inverse relationship between fertility and social class. Therefore
    > he proposed the abolishment of the economic advantage of small
    > families by instituting subsidies (he called them allowances) to
    > families with larger numbers of children, with the allowances
    > proportional to the earnings of the father." Between 1929-1934,
    > Fisher played a prominent role in the campaign by the Eugenics
    > Society for a law permitting voluntary sterilization. The Society
    > believed that this should be viewed as a right, not as a punishment.
    > At http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Ronald_Fisher one can find the
    > opinion that Fisher "was more into positive eugenics than negative
    > eugenics, i.e. he thought that those of good birth should have lots
    > of children (needless to say, he followed this through!) but without
    > the nasty reigning in of the breeding of the unwashed masses."


    Darwin held similar views. There was a correspondence of Darwin with a
    law professor Fick discovered only in 1990s. Fick sent Darwin his
    manuscript where he argued that policies such as military drafting of
    fit and strong men and exempting the weak and handicapped amounts to
    increasing the relative odds of unfit to reproduce, thus leading to
    decrease in human population fitness. Darwin replied with support,
    further speculating that such mechanism may account for rapid decline
    of great military nations in the past. He went on saying that unions
    that insist on equalizing the wages and cooperative societies in
    general are harmful to the future of mankind because they retard
    competition.

    Also, check out views of a modern geneticist, the DNA man James Watson
    (e.g. http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn3451)

    "People say it would be terrible if we made all girls pretty. I think
    it would be great."

    Moreover, not only Fisher was "an ardent promoter of eugenics", he was
    also a Professor of Eugenics at the University College. He and the
    rest published in journals like "Annals of Eugenics" which I suppose
    was considered more or less synonymous with "Human Genetics" at the
    time. Indeed, that journal was renamed to "Annals of Human Genetics"
    after the WW2. Some of these old publications are still being well
    cited, with referencing the journal by the old name.

    > It is unclear whether Fisher ever served as a paid consultant for the
    > Bitish tobacco industry. In any event, he "advocated that correlation
    > does not imply causation in the relationship between smoking and lung
    > cancer." (I can say he was wrong about this, but I still can't find
    > a bookie that will allow me to place bets on horse races after they've
    > ended.)


    On the issue of paid consulting for the tobacco industry, Fisher was
    for some time a scientific consultant to the Tobacco Manufacturer's
    Standing Committee set up to to investigate relations between smoking
    and health. Fisher wrote to the chairman: "I think it is important to
    make it clear what has been my own position from the first, that I am
    free under our agreement to say what I like and when I like, however
    much financial damage it may do to the interests of the Tobacco
    Companies". Next he emphasized that he views his role as in giving
    expert advice and that he intends to be "quite unreceptive" if asked
    to do or say anything (Bennett 1991 JRSS A 154:443-445).

    During a lecture, JF Crow recalled that Fisher wouldn't let the pipe
    out of his mouth even while swimming in the pool.

    DZ

    > IUnless the fundamentalists succeed in rewriting the definition of
    > science, scientists should welcome the opportunity to discuss and
    > debate evolutionary theory in a public forum. If spirited public
    > debate over evolution had started a long time ago, perhaps Clinton and
    > his handlers would have realized that his rampant womanizing was
    > a violation of a near universal taboo against infidelity. This, in my
    > opinion, was the primary reason why so many Americans initially turned
    > against Clinton, Gore, and the Democratic Party and placed their trust
    > and faith in Bush and the Republican Party..
    >
    > I only wish that astrobiologists would enter the fray. I think the
    > public would be entertained by hypotheses regarding the origins of the
    > building blocks of life and how life might expand beyond its planet of
    > origin. Religion, after all, suggests that God (the Creator) is
    > external to life, a supernatural being who "lives" outside this world
    > and periodically invades it in a miraculous way. I'm not suggesting
    > that astrobiology be given exaggerated prominence in order to win
    > potential converts among those who think that evolutionary theory with
    > its emphasis on "chance" represents a huge threat to their religious
    > beliefs. However, to the extent that astrobiology is a legitimate and
    > serious scientific discipline, airing the views of astrobiologists
    > might serve to reduce some of the public hostility towards science
    > (and, therefore, some of the appeal of politicians who exploit this
    > hostility.
    >
    > II'm also not suggesting that scientists should be venerated.
    > Basketball players play basketball. The opinions of the best of them
    > on non-basketball related subjects should be taken with a grain of
    > salt. Fisher was a genius whose work laid the foundations for
    > population genetics. That doesn't mean that everything brilliant
    > scientists say on subjects outside their fields of specialization
    > shouldn't be seriously questioned.
     
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