Re: [xmca] Nobel prize talks stupid things about human intelligence

From: Paul Dillon <phd_crit_think who-is-at>
Date: Thu Oct 25 2007 - 11:19:04 PDT

  Q1 - the existence of a reaction might be considered evidence of the paradigm's failure, just as Emmet Till's brutal murder in 1955 became an event that began to awaken the slumbering American consciousness to the realities of segregation and racism in the South. Watson's remarks are implicit in the paradigm just not usually expressed openly. When they come out in the open so blatantly, more people hear the sound.
  Q2 - Just check out some university budgets, Eirik, compare funding for genetics research, with all the coat-tail contracts involved, with research funding in social/cultural/historical research. Check out the earmarked corporate donations to higher ed. Tax write-offs for long-term R&D as well as personnel development. Of course genetics is part of a much the much the broader hegemony of the western scientific paradigm, but the one that, unlike quantum physics, etc., makes claims about the nature of human culture, history and psychology.
  Q3 - I've never seen one but have radar out for that kind of news. I could be wrong and would love to know of any studies that claim to show such a relation. Also, I've already presented cases that demonstrate how even health matters can't be reduced to genetics. Neither I nor anyone else I've read on the list has made any statements about pursuing genetics research, pro or con, just vigilance about what's going on with it.
  "E. Knutsson" <> wrote:

Since you disagree "that Watson in some way represents a countercurrent to the
prevailing Zeitgeist," could you explain why his statements provoked such
intense reactions?

And can you give grounds for your assertion that "Genetic determinism is a
major element of the prevailing academic zeitgeist"(cf. your previous statement
about "the hegemonic powers of the genetic paradigm")?

"... no causal relationships have ever been demonstrated between genetic traits
and socio-cultural activity[.]"

Do we know that? And if we do: is that a valid argument against genetic
research in general? And if it is: how could "the hegemonic powers" of "Genetic
determinism" become "a major element of the prevailing academic zeitgeist"?

Just wondering,

On 2007-10-24, at 18:43, Paul Dillon wrote:
> aEirik,
> I disagree with your point that Watson in some way represents a
countercurrent to the prevailing Zeitgeist. The Bourdieu passage concerning
the elite school environments is only part of his much broader critique of
academic practice. Genetic determinism is a major element of the prevailing
academic zeitgeist despite a sprinkling of intellectuals who oppose it. Do
you really believe that Watson isn't a major representative of genetic
> Furthermore, the issue doesn't concern political opinions in general, it
has to do with (1) Watson's use of genetics as a "warrant" (a la Toulmin) for
those opinions, and (2) the power his words, in general, carry due to his
stature in the broader scientific community, his sanctified position in his own
field, and the extension of genetic engineering into all aspects of society via
promises and claims (I'm a Zulu) that are completely unsupportable.
> At no time have I used ad hominem nor ad populum arguments in my posts
concerning Watson. I did say he was a thief but this is based on the testimony
of playboy and co-discover of DNA, Francis Crick, in his book, "The Double
Helix", concerning the break-in and burglary of the cristallographic images
that enabled them to see what was wrong with Linus Pauling's model.
> In sythesis, I have argued that (1) no causal relationships have ever
been demonstrated between genetic traits and socio-cultural activity ; (2)
Watson's behavior is unethical since he should make that clear before making
those assertions. None of his recantations have ever disavowed his underlying
faith (e.g., based on no science) in genetic determinism.
> Paul

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Received on Thu Oct 25 11:22 PDT 2007

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