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View Diary: Book Review: The Evolution of Everything (159 comments)

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  •  Since the main focus of the book... (5+ / 0-)

    is on how Social Statics and works like it kidnapped evolution as a means of promoting a rigid social hierarchy, I'd like to think I avoided the same trap.

    I tried to use metaphors in the service of one central thought: natural selection is that simple, it's not at the service of some great design, there is no direction or pressure that drives toward what we view as "improvement," and any perception that there's a goal in this process is just that -- a perception.

    And I still expect that some folks in the field will scream about some of the analogies I've used, but I can live with that.

    •  I'd like to hear more (if you're so disposed) (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      melo, walkshills, RhymesWithUrple

      of how you take on the Social Statics trap.  You can accept the Gouldian (for lack of a better term) notions of evolution as non-directive and still have people making a claim that their success (which is often these days their grandfather's success) "proves" their greater worthiness for their social station given that our present environment is what it is.  (Wealthy people might concede that others would be better adapted to living in the slums of Bombay, but most of us are not typing from there.)

      I think that the notion that evolution does not imply hierarchy is good and correct, but I'm wondering whether you (and my) conclusion stems from our politics more so than our science.  So my question to you (as, after all, like everyone else I'm functioning here to gin up interest in your book by discussion) is: granted that the anti-hierarchical arguments in your analysis would be convincing to a liberal, would they also be convincing to a conservative?  Would they tend to demonstrate -- as have arguments that "miscegenation" actually leads to healthier and more adaptive babies -- that the "liberal" approach to hierarchies is actually better than the conservative approach, or does your argument just knock out one of the Calvinist-cum-perverted-Darwinist pegs supporting the Spencerian approach.  (In other words, I suppose, I'm asking whether you are playing solely defense, or offense as well?)

      "So if you don't have any teeth, so what? ... Isn't that why they make applesauce?" -- GOP leader Rush Limbaugh

      by Seneca Doane on Sun May 30, 2010 at 11:11:24 AM PDT

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    •  I found your discussion of this point (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      melo

      very helpful, Mark. I teach college sociology and it's such an important point to get across (given that Spencer is essential to the discipline). You've provided me with excellent material for the purpose.

      "Statistics are people with the tears washed away." Sociologist Ruth Sidel

      by Vicky on Sun May 30, 2010 at 06:46:41 PM PDT

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