on Lewontin on biology

Maoist Internationalist Movement mim3 at nyxfer.blythe.org
Thu Sep 14 16:12:05 MDT 1995

On Thu, 14 Sep 1995, Lisa Rogers wrote:

> JimDevine:I recently read Lewontin book (NOT IN OUR GENES, with Rose
> and  Kamin) and I don't think this [Lisa's] is an accurate
> description of  Lewontin's views.
> Lisa:  Jim's view of Lewontin certainly looks more reasonable than
> what I've seen.  If you read his Tanner lecture, you'll see what I
> saw.  To the extent that he did say anything reasonable, it is still
> irritating to a lot of us behavioral ecologists because we already
> know all about "interaction with environment" etc, etc.  Repeated
> tales about the evils of genetic determinism are redundant and
> irrelevant to all my colleagues, and I believe, to the immense
> majority of all biologically informed people.  Certainly in the
> Tanner Lecture, Lewontin went much farther than blasting what I would
> call bio-determinism.  Rather than shooting a conceptual wolf in
> biological clothing, that was trying to hide in the department, but
> was dead already anyway, it felt like Lewontin would blow up the
> whole building.  Or the rest of us respectable people keep burying a
> smelly dead goat, and Lewontin&co keep digging up the goat so they
> can shoot it again, in order to save us all.  All it does is stink up
> the whole place.

MIM replies: Well-informed biologists are bored perhaps,
but maybe such enlightened biologists miss what is is happening
in the political industry of science.

Though we disagree with the Progressive Labor Party, there is no
doubt that the issues INCAR (International Committee Against Racism)
raises on this are real. There are PLENTY of scientists willing
to take research money for projects with dead goat agendas or
crypto-dead-goat-agendas. Such people may not be evident as
much in Biology  Departments (E. O. Wilson being an exception),
but they exert more influence in the public. Though it may be
obvious to biologists, to the laypeople, it appears that
scientists with dead-goat-agendas are every bit as prevalent
or more prevalent than people with detailed critiques of
biological determinism, because the dead-goatists get the
tens of millions of private and government money. (And I am
not referring to the opportunist money-grubbing publishers
of the Bell Curve and their ilk mainly, but the increasing
entrenchment in the medical community and pharmaceutical
industry of people who take up biological determinism.)

Pat for MIM

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