The past is always changing

Only the future is certain.  The past is always changing.

The Congo was the poster child for the dreadful evils of colonialism.  We were supposed to look at how cruelly the Belgians treat the poor natives, look at how many natives colonialism has murdered to maintain its savage rule.  In 1961, it got independence.  The whites fled rape and murder.  Two or three weeks after independence, the Congo became a savage hell hole, and has remained that way ever since, Zimbabwe in fast forward.  The whites fled the Congo faster than they have fled Zimbabwe, so the descent into savagery was faster.  Yet now, the outcome of decolonization has been forgotten, and the Congo is back to being the poster child of the evils of colonialism, and we repeat the same disaster over and over again:  Haiti foreshadowed the Congo, the Congo foreshadowed Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Until the Soviets collapsed, 99% of Academia enthusiastically agreed that the Soviet Union’s command economy was growing much faster than the US’s old fashioned semi market economy, and the remaining 1% agreed that it was growing at least as fast – or at least that is what they said when anyone was listening. Since the general consensus outside of Academia was that the Soviet Union was a festering economic basket case whose central plan existed only on paper, collapsing into disorderly pillage in actual practice, one wonders what happened to any academic inclined to say that the Soviet Union was a festering economic basket case, whose plans and statistics were utterly disconnected from the chaotic and destructive reality.

Before 1972, every historian of science agreed that Darwin’s big idea was natural selection, and those of them that addressed the issue of Lamarck and common descent agreed that Lamarck proposed common descent.

Natural selection, however tends to lead to disturbing thoughts and disturbing words, for example “Once the superiority of races with a prevailing aversion to incest had been established by their survival …” Superior races! Oh the horror, the horror. Natural selection suggests endangered species have it coming to them, that women are not naturally equal to men, that genocide is, if regrettable, nonetheless natural and in the long run frequently inevitable, and lots of similarly horrifying stuff like that, and I have left out the really shocking stuff to avoid offending the readers too much. So it was progressively de-emphasized to students in the textbooks. But if you de-emphasize natural selection, this leaves a mysterious gap. What was Darwin famous for?

So in 1972, history was corrected, Winston Smith style. Darwin got common descent to fill the gap left by the de-emphasis of natural selection, just as Winston Smith invented comrade Ogilvy to replace the vaporized unperson Comrade Withers, and common descent was taken away from Lamarck. The textbook “Biology today” page 638

… in the Origin of Species. The central claim of that book can be fairly simply stated. According to the Darwinian theory, any natural group of similar species-all the mammal species, for instance-owe their common mammalian characteristics to a common descent from a single ancestral mammalian species.

And as for Lamarck, he got the shaft. Page 641

Lamarck’s theory is not a hypothesis of common descent, which ascribes the common characteristics of a particular species to their common descent from a single species. … He claims that … although all mammals are descended from reptiles, they are not descended from the same reptiles

Somehow, after 1972, no one in Academia was able to mention that before 1972 everyone thought that Lamarckism is the doctrine “that all plants and animals are descended from a common primitive form of life.” (Century Cyclopedia)

Before 1972
After 1972

Just as one wonders what happened to academics before 1980 who were inclined to doubt the great success of central planning, one wonders what happens to academics after 1972 who remember that before 1972, the history of science was different.

We have always been at war with Eastasia

Someone in Academia received an order like that given to Comrade Winston Smith, and all of Academia fell into line, and remains in line to this day, a thousand megaphones attached to one microphone.

The reporting of Big Brother’s Order for the Day in The Times of December 3rd 1983 is extremely unsatisfactory and makes references to non-existent persons. Rewrite it in full and submit your draft to higher authority before filing.

… Withers, however, was already an unperson. He did not exist: he had never existed. …

… To-day he should commemorate Comrade Ogilvy. It was true that there was no such person as Comrade Ogilvy, but a few lines of print and a couple of faked photographs would soon bring him into existence.

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10 Responses to “The past is always changing”

  1. TheRebel22 says:

    You’re full of shit.

    A History of Modern Psychology[I] — 9th edition.(2004)
    “Darwin reasoned that this spontaneous variability was inheritable. In nature, a process of natural selection results in the survival of those organisms best suited for their environment and the elimination of those not fit” –p.150

    Evolutionary Psychology: The Science of Human Behavior and Evolution(2003)
    “Natural Selection is the major mechanism by which that change occurs. It was really natural selection and not evolution that was Darwin’s great contribution to science.”–p.53

    Even my book Personality and Personal Growth6thedition(2002), which is about theories of personality and mentions Darwin twice, links him with Natural Selection.

    “Adler’s later work can be viewed as a refutation of social Darwinism, which emphasizes the survival of the fittest and elimination of the unfit.”-p.93
    –Now I know ‘social Darwinism’ is a little bit different, but before this quote it talks about how Adler was “strongly influenced by Darwin’s theory of evolution” and “His concept of individual psychology is based on the Darwinian premise that adaptation to the environment is the most fundamental aspect of life.”

    A Conceptual History of Psychology 1st edition(2009) LOL It has subject header for a whole section of the book, in big capital, bold letters CHARLES DARWIN: EVOLUTION BY NATURAL SELECTION –p.251

    I think that says enough for what that book has to say.

    I pulled out my The Structure of Evolutionary Theory by Stephen J. Gould. I’m reading the section on Lamarck. On one of the links your buddy Jim posted as “Before 1972” it explains Lamarck’s view as:

    “In view of the great clearness and consistency of his system it is only a matter of course that he should assign to man his natural place at the head of the vertebrates, and explain the causes of his transformation out of ape-like mammals… he assumes that the common earliest genealogical forms of all organisms were absolutely simple beings, and they came into existence immediately out of inorganic matter in water by spontaneous generation, through the combined effect of different physical causes.”

    In Structure… Gould talks about how many have discredited Lamarck and focus only on his ‘soft inheritance’, or the idea that function follows form – that animals change based on willful adaptation that is inheritable. He says that that is only one small part of Lamarck’s theory and is often mis-characterized.

    He continues, saying “Yet Lamarck firmly advocated a taxonomic ordering of organisms by the conventional scheme of increasing perfection in organization… his yearly courses featured this organizing theme of linear order (as a pedagogic device, Lamarck usually started with humans, as the “highest” creature, and then discussed the rest of nature as a degradation from maximal complexity. He defended this procedure, even in his evolutionary writings, as a method for teaching, even though historical order had actually moved from the simple to complex” –p.180

    “Why on our present and ancient earth, do some organisms maintain the simplest anatomies? … New life continues to arise from chemical constituents; these simple forms begin their march up the ladder, while replacements at their lowly status continue to form anew…. the ladder of life really operates as continuous escalator, with all steps occupied at all moments. The simplest forms continue to arise by spontaneous generation from chemical constituents…”p.180

    He claims that “Lamarck first proposed a single linear series of animals, starting with the spontaneous generation of infusorians(protistans) as free-living creatures in water… However, Lamarck later discovered worms without nerve cords… Thus, worms without nerve cords must represent part of a second and separate sequence in the spontaneous generation of even simpler worms as parasites within the bodies of other organisms.”–p.183

    It sounds like Lamarck is often mischaracterized for one particular view that he held, but that he also changed and contradicted his views – as scientists tend to do as they learn and discover more – over time. He has pictures of Lamarck’s writings and diagrams of how he saw evolution and the sequence of progress for organisms. I mean, you can’t really expect to have school text books to have the right and correct history, but here is Stephen J. Gould authoring a very famous and renowned book on the history/structure of evolutionary theory talking about how Lamarck proposed common descent at one point.

  2. jim says:

    TheRebel22 says:

    You’re full of shit.

    A History of Modern Psychology[I] — 9th edition.(2004)
    “Darwin reasoned that this spontaneous variability was inheritable. In nature, a process of natural selection results in the survival of those organisms best suited for their environment and the elimination of those not fit” –p.150

    I said that natural selection was “de-emphasized”, I did not say that natural selection was completely erased.

    Yes, natural selection is still there – just far away from anything likely to be controversial and no longer very important.

    “Why on our present and ancient earth, do some organisms maintain the simplest anatomies? … New life continues to arise from chemical constituents; these simple forms begin their march up the ladder, while replacements at their lowly status continue to form anew…. the ladder of life really operates as continuous escalator, with all steps occupied at all moments. The simplest forms continue to arise by spontaneous generation from chemical constituents…”p.180

    That is not what page 180 of my copy of Lamarck says, nor can I find substrings of that alleged quote in a text search over his books, and that alleged quote appears to directly contradict Lamarck’s position – in short, the quote looks to me like a straight fraud, much like all those numerous supposed quotes from Jefferson or Adam Smith supposedly endorsing Marxist ideology. Perhaps you could give me more precise citation of this alleged quote but I doubt that you can. I suspect is not a quote, rather it purports to be a paraphrase – without, however revealing what text it is supposedly paraphrasing.

  3. TheRebel22 says:

    “but I doubt that you can. I suspect is not a quote, rather it purports to be a paraphrase – without, however revealing what text it is supposedly paraphrasing.”

    … listen guy, just because you are going on ranting about how ‘history has been changed’ and natural selection has been de-emphasized, which clearly is not the case as far as I can tell, does not mean I have manufactured a quote. The quote is not from any version of ‘lamarck’ or whatever you’re talking about. Perhaps I didn’t include it fully because that reply was copied and pasted from posts I had made on another site. The quote is from “The Structure and Evolutionary Theory” by Stephen J. Gould. I have the hardback version, printed by the Belknap Press of Harvard University Press(2002)

    I’ll go ahead and type out the whole paragraph for you. It’s the 3rd paragraph on page 180. I did not include all of what was written initially, only the relevant parts. There was no attempt at deceit or misrepresentation.

    “Lamarck argued that a second set of forces, distinct from the causal flow of environment to organism, produced nature’s other primary pattern of advancing complexity. But this claim for an efficient and universal cause of progress endangered another dilemma: why, on our present an ancient earth, do some organisms still maintain the simplest anatomies? Why were these forms not pushed up the ladder of complexity ages ago? Lamarck resolved this problem with the last major argument of his full system – continuous spontaneous generation. New life continues to arise from chemical constituents; the simple forms begin their march up the ladder, while replacements at their lowly status continue to form anew. (Thus, in a curious sense, as Simpson and others have noted, Lamarck’s evolutionary system operates as a grade steady state, even as any particular bit of photoplasm moves on a historical path up the sequence. The ladder of life really operates as a continuous escalator, with all steps occupied at all moments. The simplest forms continue to arise by spontaneous generation from chemical constituents formed by the breakdown of higher creatures upon their individual deaths.)”

    And actually, I re-read my reply, and I did clearly state the quote was from The Structure of Evolutionary Theory. There is a whole 20 page chapter on Lamarck and it talks about how his views changed, how he is mostly recognized for soft-inheritance which is a misrepresentation, and how he held contradictory views over his lifetime.

    I’m really not sure why you think Natural Selection has been so dramatically emphasized. I took a course on the History of Psychology and wrote my term paper on the IQ-debate (of course, favoring works such as The Bell Curve, the G-factor, etc.), and there was PLENTY in that and every other textbook I’ve read on subjects of american history, science, and psychology about Natural Selection, evolution, and how that turned into social darwinism. Yes, the evils of such ideas are mentioned, but they have never been shied away from in my experience.

    • jim says:

      The quote is not from any version of ‘lamarck’ or whatever you’re talking about.

    • jim says:

      But this claim for an efficient and universal cause of progress endangered another dilemma: why, on our present an ancient earth, do some organisms still maintain the simplest anatomies? Why were these forms not pushed up the ladder of complexity ages ago?

      According to Lamarck, the highest birds are not the most manlike birds, but the most birdlike birds, the least lizardlike. Since birds are not going to evolve into men, the continued existence of worms poses no problem for him. His chain of being is more a Christmas tree of being, and he draws a picture like a Christmas tree – some branches are higher than other branches, but the branches head off in all directions – hence no escalator. As in a Christmas tree, if you head off on the wrong branch of the tree that he drew, you are not going to get to the top.

      The writer proposes a dilemma that simply did not occur to Lamarck, and a solution to that imaginary dilemma that Lamarck did not propose.

    • jim says:

      I’ve read on subjects of american history, science, and psychology about Natural Selection, evolution, and how that turned into social Darwinism. Yes, the evils of such ideas are mentioned, but they have never been shied away from in my experience.

      Natural selection did not “turn into” Social Darwinism. Darwinism was social Darwinism, which aspect of Darwinism was immediately controversial, and immediately de-emphasized, so that no one since Darwin has been as openly Social Darwinist as Darwin was.

      If Darwinism did not lead to Hitler, it was because though Darwin was a social Darwinist, Hitler was not.

  4. TheRebel22 says:

    “I’m not really sure why you think Natural Selection has been so dramatically ‘DE-EMPHASIZED.” **

    • jim says:

      TheRebel22

      “I’m not really sure why you think Natural Selection has been so dramatically ‘DE-EMPHASIZED.” **

      Because the 1965 textbook Life; an introduction to biology has pages and pages about natural selection and explains in loving detail Darwin’s horribly politically incorrect account of one species splitting into several by natural selection, while the 1972 textbook Biology today has a few cryptic references to natural selection, and no discussion of speciation.

  5. TheRebel22 says:

    Well, perhaps it isn’t being elaborated on as much in biological textbooks. How about we look at some modern biology textbooks? I mean, I just know that any topic taught in any subject in a basic high-school textbook is not going to be really explained well. They all just give you the basic idea, and kind of move on. I think it’s a general problem with education. Perhaps you’re right about early 70’s textbooks backing away from it, being as that was a far more controversial issue then than it is now. I just know in my experience – I’m only 20 years old, went to public HS, took 14 Advanced Placement classes, went to Washington&Lee University(but health problems have relegated me back home in St. Augustine, Florida where I’m going to Flagler College until I get healthier) – that I never noticed Natural Selection being shied away from and the idea of racial differences is something I have explored IN DETAIL for years of my life. It’s not something I’m very into these days as my interests have changed. I definitely understand and completely agree with you – if I’m correct in assuming your position on political correctness; Probably a lot of the implications of Natural Selection, including the possibility that it may have led to racial differences, are not going to be explored and brought up for debate in your everyday High School classroom. I do agree that some things are suppressed by the media and some establishments to prevent such thinking from even possibly occurring in people’s minds. However, I’ve definitely encountered a lot of talk about natural selection and the implications of the policy in both my school education and my personal education.

    • jim says:

      that I never noticed Natural Selection being shied away from and the idea of racial differences is something I have explored IN DETAIL for years of my life.

      Recollect that there was a cline between wolves and coyotes, just as there is a cline between whites and blacks. The existence of this cline was viewed as horrifyingly politically incorrect, since wolves and coyotes are reasonably viewed as different species, and it was wiped out – which strikes me as fairly vigorous and violent shying away from natural selection and racial differences. The existence of such clines confirms Darwin’s account of the origin of species through natural selection – which I am pretty sure you were not taught.

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