Monday, February 11, 2013

Hope clouds observation--for the Right and Left alike

Man-caused global warming, if acknowledged fully, would severely crimp the short-term profits of many very large corporations--along with the lifestyle of the average American.

So it doesn't exist. Not for those corporations and right-wing Americans at least.

Evolution, if acknowledged fully, would mean that important scriptural works like the Bible and the Q'uran must be taken figuratively, not literally.

So it doesn't exist--not for fundamentalists at least. And that's a majority of Americans.

The overpopulation crisis, if acknowledged fully, would lead to all nations adopting China's One Child policy, providing every form of birth control to everyone with no questions asked--including abortion--as well as leading to a poorer lifestyle for everyone in graying rich country populations, as well as leading to a disproportionate need to reduce nonwhite populations on the whole, for exigent reasons. 

So it doesn't exist--not for doctrinaire right wingers, due to the abortion aspect and the lifestyle crimp aspect--and not for doctrinaire left wingers, due to the nonwhite aspect leaving one open to accusations of racism.

President Obama's intelligence and discipline have been obvious and repeatedly demonstrated for decades. But he's a black man. And black men are not intelligent--not if you're an angry old white man of the Southern persuasion.

So the President's intelligence doesn't exist. Remember all the right wing japes about him only being clever when he had a teleprompter? Not to mention all the other nonsense they've said about his smarts. 

Race makes racism possible. But racism is wrong. So race doesn't exist. At least not if you're a doctrinaire leftist. 

I was thinking about that last one yesterday when the NY Times published a longish essay by a philosophy professor about how race is a "social construct" yada yada.

Hundreds comments mostly agreed with the good professor, blathering endlessly about how there's no such thing as race.

Here's my comment, which you can see in the thread near the end:

The Republican Party's hostility to both science and scientific thought is so blatant and widespread that's it's easy to overlook the ways in which doctrinaire Leftists show the same character defect.

What I glean from this article and most of the comments is how easy it is to get a Liberal Arts college degree without learning even the rudiments of science. Instead we see smug academic parochialism.

Race is a feature of every kind of living organism, not just people. It's the first step towards speciation--the way in which evolution leads to a different species, genus, family, order, class, and even phylum. The human species started out as a race of proto-hominid that evolved into a separate species--ours--which then spread out and started to subdivide, in the same way that other species of organisms do--through geographical and/or ecological isolation, with differing evolutionary pressures on each isolated gene pool. 

Only two kinds of people deny that human beings are living creatures that evolved like other living creatures: religious fundamentalists and liberals--strange bedfellows indeed.

You can't deny that there are human races unless you also deny that there are different races of, say, corn, or cats, or malaria. Yet no one in this thread has talked about our species in the context of the rest of Earth's biosphere.

A Liberal Arts BA needs to include far better grounding in science and critical thinking in general.


I added some details about just what "race" means scientifically as a response to another comment in the thread:

 The evolution of one species of living organism into two or more starts with gene pools of that species becoming geographically and/or ecologically isolated (eating different kinds of foods, for example), leading to that species developing into different races, as any introductory biology course would teach.

Thus Orientals and Caucasians differentiated from common stock in western Asia roughly 50,000 years ago, when the former moved east and the latter, west. Orientals had to evolve adaptations to the harsh winters of the central Asian steppes, including the epicanthic fold, while Caucasians had to evolve lighter skin so they could still synthesize Vitamin D under the cloudy skies of western Europe.

Racial differentiation usually continues to the point where individuals from the isolated groups can no longer produce fertile offspring when they try to interbreed. This process is called speciation.

For example, horses and donkeys--different species of the same genus--can reproduce but the offspring (mules/hinnies) are not fertile. In time, in the natural environment, their descendants would no longer be able to produce any offspring at all--as is now the case with their more distant cousins the tapirs and rhinoceroses.

How anyone with a college education might imagine that homo sapiens is exempt from these evolutionary processes, to which all other living organisms are subject, is beyond me.

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