October 31, 2007

The definitive James Watson posting

Over at GNXP, Jason Malloy unloads on the Watson brouhaha.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer


Paul said...

In his brilliant essay "Darwinism and Darwinisticism" Morse Peckham (the great Cultural Historian who in 1959 edited the Variorum text of The Origin of Species) made the following pertinent remarks:

"We need a formula or model which will do something to explain not the rejection of "The Origin", which is not too difficult to understand, but the perverting and self-deluding acceptance of the work. The following formulations will serve, I think, as a start.
When a human being encounters a stimulus which cannnot be fitted into an existent orientation, the fundamental tendency is either to negate the value and importance of the stumulus or to inhibit its effect, either by denying its existence or by misinterpreting it."
He goes on to talk about the process of moving from one Orientation to another that is more advanced (as was the case with many who were effected by Darwin's work).
The basic pattern is:
Orientation-Disorientation-Reorientation. As Peckham points out, few make it through to a full Reorientation.
"The arrival at a new high-level orientation requires high intelligence, a personality strong enough to endure considerable distrubance and frustration without collapsing or putting up defenses, a high-level culture, and - very probably the most important factor - willingness to endure considerable loss of energy.
For maintaining a pattern involves loss of energy, but creating and maintaining a novel pattern, particularly one not reinforced by the environment, involves even greater loss. It is easy now to range the responses to to the Origin in a kind of order; those who totally rejected it; those who completely misunderstood it; those who incorporated it into their existing set of attitudes by misinterpreting it; and finally those who understood it and subjected their personal cultures to a complete restructuring...
An orientation functions as a means of reinforcing the sense of identity; the sense of value....At any time a stimulus which conflicts with an existent orientation is disturbing, and Darwin is still capable of being very disturbing. It is difficult to absorb the fact, but for the most part our total culture has still been only very superficially affected by Darwinism."
And this essay was published in September 1956! In any event, it's not hard to see how the above remarks apply to the events in October surrounding James Watson. The essay in question is from "The Triumph of Romanticism" Collected Essays by Morse Peckham.

Al Fin said...

I agree, Jason's post is amazing. If all of us were required to maintain similar standards of relevance and thoroughness, most blogs would have to fold.

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