Klinghoffer: Darwinists Are Blinded by Ideology

We’ve written before that it’s not just the political right-wing (Republicans in the US) who have problems with science — the left does too. For example, see Which Political Party Is Anti-Science?. That was followed by Global Warming and Nuclear Power — Big Conflict.

Our point was that politicians and activists in both parties, like the population as a whole, are mostly ignorant of science, but they tend to have confidence in science which supports (or at least doesn’t conflict with) their political positions — like environmentalism, “social justice,” etc. In other words, the parties’ attitudes about science are driven by ideology.

Articles like that distress many of our readers, who prefer to think that ignorance is limited to the “other” party, so we don’t do it very often. That’s why we didn’t write about something we saw yesterday in the Spectator, the oldest continuously published magazine in the English language, which is located in London. Their forthright headline is The left’s own war on science. It’s about an American anthropologist, Napoleon Chagnon, who studied a tribe in the Amazonian rain forest, and concluded that there was nothing noble or innocent about them — rather, they were genuine savages. His colleagues turned on him, condemned him, and he was forced into early retirement. But he has lately been vindicated and has resumed his career.

It didn’t occur to us that creationists would find anything of interest in that news, but even your Curmudgeon is sometimes wrong. Look what was just pasted at the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog: The Myth of the Objective Scientist. It was written by David Klinghoffer, a Discoveroid “senior fellow” (i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist), who eagerly functions as their journalistic slasher and poo flinger. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Though rare, it’s gratifying to see someone in the media pulling back the covers that normally hide the fact that passions and prejudices can drive scientists just like everyone else.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Klinghoffer describes the article in the Spectator about the ideological assault experienced by Napoleon Chagnon, and uses it as an example of the prejudice that the Discoveroids experience in attempting to promote their “theory” of intelligent design. He says:

Liberals were too committed to their liberalism to allow the results of his research to stand, and so denounced and demonized him: [big quote from the Spectator ].

Then he gets carried away and applies that to the Discoveroids’ situation:

A related problem is that just as liberals are devoted to their noble savage, they are perhaps even more devoted to the myth of the objective scientist. In this perspective, scientists are special, uniquely clear-sighted, distinctively noble, not unlike the precious, peace-loving, environment-friendly indigenous peoples of the world but with a lab coat instead of a loincloth.

The truth is that a vision of how the universe ought to look can blind us. In the current prestige view, physical existence ought to be driven, in the final analysis, by unguided forces to the exclusion of purpose, wisdom, or intelligence. All evidence must, therefore, be interpreted in that light, confirming the vision in a tight little circle.

Yes, dear reader, just as Napoleon Chagnon was wrongly maligned by ideological fanatics, so too are the visionaries of the Discovery Institute being maligned and ridiculed. This is the end of Klinghoffer’s post:

Misled by the myth of objectivity, many in the media and in education are themselves blinded. And so you have a dynamic that goes beyond a vague confirmation bias to an absolute insistence that when it comes to certainties like Darwinian evolution, no challenge is permitted and anyone willing to consider counterevidence is demonized as a “creationist.”

So there you are, dear reader. If scientists can behave badly — even if they’re only “social” scientists — it means that all scientists are scoundrels. And this is especially true of those who disregard the brilliance of the Discoveroids. Perhaps you ought to re-think your attitudes about intelligent design.

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22 responses to “Klinghoffer: Darwinists Are Blinded by Ideology

  1. michaelfugate

    I think it is called projection. Look it up David.

  2. I get it, Kilngydingle is saying that IDiots can’t be scoundrels because they aren’t scientists. I’d say that’s half right.

  3. Also, you have to say that this is an instance where science worked like it is supposed to. An idea is shot down (it really doesn’t matter if it was originally for ideological reasons) but eventually the facts won out. Exactly the way science works. Good to see the Discoveroids recognize that.

  4. Same idea with Wegner and continental drift.

  5. michaelfugate

    And as usual there is more the Chagnon story than right v. left. How people do cultural anthropology changes and Chagnon is of another generation of researcher, much like Margaret Mead’s reputation changed and others even before her.

  6. Once again, dear Klingy wonderfully illustrates the searing schizophrenia at the heart of the Creationist agenda: they loathe science, because it totally undermines their cherished Oogity-Boogity, and at the same time they desperately crave the irrefutable prestige that only that self-same science can lend.

  7. michaelfugate

    I think it also shows that if getting rid of all science was the means for getting rid of evolution, the DI would opt to get rid of all science.

  8. Klinghoffer (bold added):
    “Liberals were too committed to their liberalism to allow the results of his research to stand, and so denounced and demonized him…”

    That’s the key word here, Klingy — research. You don’t have any.

  9. Klonkerbonkers provides us real insight into the Disco Tute clown circus revival with his projection. What he describes is exactly how the Disco Tute creationists behave right down the line. All the way to their comment-blocked misinformation website now run by Annie Green Screen.

  10. Yes science is blinded by …facts & evidence. If they had any, they would present it.

  11. If one rejects evolution, then there is nothing about which evidence would be relevant. There is no alternative.

  12. A related problem is that just as liberals are devoted to their noble savage, they are perhaps even more devoted to the myth of the objective scientist. In this perspective, scientists are special, uniquely clear-sighted, distinctively noble, not unlike the precious, peace-loving, environment-friendly indigenous peoples of the world but with a lab coat instead of a loincloth.

    Notice how Klinghoffer manages to draw left-right politics into it. Apparently, to him, it’s those pinko atheistic liberals who are shielding the evil Darwinists from the holy light of truth.

    And of course K loves the idea that these nonwhite—and non-Christian—tribespeople have supposedly been found to be “genuine savages” after all. Creationists trend to come from the right end of the political spectrum and to look down on nonwhites (except for “good ones” like Ben Carson, a right-wing fundamentalist himself). And Bible-wavers like him believe that anyone who isn’t Christian—their kind of Christian—is a “genuine savage,” since decency can only come from devotion to the Christian Bible as read in the sixteenth century.

    The truth is that a vision of how the universe ought to look can blind us. In the current prestige view, physical existence ought to be driven, in the final analysis, by unguided forces to the exclusion of purpose, wisdom, or intelligence. All evidence must, therefore, be interpreted in that light, confirming the vision in a tight little circle.

    That sounds like a pretty good description of how creationists handle things—except that their notion of “evidence” is, well, eccentric at best.

  13. I didn’t mean to , however , I emptied a conference room today when I pointed out to one of the company’s IT folks that although he thinks “environmental scientists are paid by the government” and are therefore frauds , its pretty clear that “all scientific organizations of merit say that global warming and greenhouse warming are at historically unheard of levels and that mankind’s activities are likely the cause”. The “expert” holding forth about global warming fraud didn’t have much to say after that, but the lunch room did empty out.
    I forgot to ask him what his thoughts were on evilushun. However I will remember to do that next time this group of “experts” gets together over PBJ and baloney sandwiches.
    Oh dearie dear.

  14. “His colleagues turned on him”
    Eh? Nothing new here. OK, to be honest I’m not sure about their Dutch colleagues, but I’ve been cured of the noble savage myth a long time ago and don’t know of any European leftist who has defended it say the last 30 years.. Of course it helped that I have had direct contact with those supposed noble savages since 2000. To be specific: Ndyuka, Arawak and Kalina (you can look them up at Wikipedia).
    It didn’t change my left views one single bit, simply because the noble savage myth never was essential for them. It’s just old news.

    http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520226104

    The Wikipedia page on Napoleon Chagnon provides no information at all that even hints at a left-right conflict, so your introduction seems quite off the mark, dear SC. Perhaps you yourself were again blinded by your own ideology?

  15. “Creationists trend to come from the right end of the political spectrum and to look down on nonwhites….”

    African-Americans embrace creationism in far greater percentages than so-called “white Americans”. So yours is a rather strange assumption. The NCSE has published many excellent pleas, based on extensive surveys and empirical evidence, that we avoid this kind of flawed stereotyping when dealing with creationists. Likewise for clumsy “essentialism”, as they call it, that has for far too many years confused the debate. See “The Creationists: How Many, Who, and Where?” at http://ncse.com/rncse/24/5/creationists.

    “And of course K loves the idea that these nonwhite—and non-Christian—tribespeople have supposedly been found to be “genuine savages” after all.”

    “Loves the idea”? As a “non-white” with decidedly darker skin than most of my American friends, I don’t see how you came up with that. I’m put-off but most of what Klinghoffer writes and says but is playing the race card really helpful in this context? If you are calling him a racist, what is your evidence? And if you think all creationists are racists, what is your evidence?

    During my time in America I’ve encountered just as much discrimination from self-described liberals as conservatives. No doubt it was due to my looking and sounding different. Whether or not that discrimination constitutes racism is a complex topic of its own.

  16. “It didn’t change my left views one single bit, simply because the noble savage myth never was essential for them. It’s just old news.”

    Old news is certainly true. I remember learning about the “noble savage” myth of Rousseau as an undergraduate and how it was eventually discredited. Nevertheless, the myth remains very much alive in many cultural quarters, such as the cliche filled The Emerald Forest movie of the mid 1980’s that I remember my professor having us watch to make that point. The noble savage myth was pronounced dead long ago but the zombie corpse is still walking around and making trouble again and again even today.

    By the way I have never considered the “noble savage” a racist slur.

  17. mnb0 says: “The Wikipedia page on Napoleon Chagnon provides no information at all that even hints at a left-right conflict, so your introduction seems quite off the mark, dear SC. Perhaps you yourself were again blinded by your own ideology?”

    Me? Ideological? It was the article in the Spectator that placed the Chagnon controversy in a left-right context. As for the “noble savage” ideology, it’s alive and well and thriving in America because of our history of conflict with the native tribes.

    According to one end of the political spectrum, America is baaaaaaaaaaad and always has been, so the Indians must have been really nice people. Old Western movies weren’t like that, but now we have movies like Dances with Wolves.

    There’s also the recent effort to demonize Thomas Jefferson. Everyone on the Left knows that Jefferson was baaaaaaaaaaad — mostly because he was a slave owner, but that wasn’t his only sin. In the Declaration he criticized the King for stirring up “the merciless Indian Savages,” so Jefferson was really a bad guy.

  18. Adding to my previous comment where I mentioned Dances with Wolves as an example of “noble savage” movies, a more recent and much more heavy-handed example is Avatar. Wikipedia’s article, Themes in Avatar, says: “Discussion has centered on such themes as the conflict between modern man and nature, and the film’s treatment of imperialism, racism, militarism and patriotism, corporate greed, property rights, spirituality and religion. Commentators have debated whether the film’s treatment of the human aggression against the native Na’vi is a message of support for indigenous peoples today, or is, instead, a tired retelling of the racist myth of the noble savage.”

  19. The Curmudgeon makes a valid point that liberals are far more likely to fall into the PC trap of political correctness than conservatives. That false liberal narrative and this is from a social liberal by the way calling out his own kind, assumes that white culture is to always be criticized and that minority groups should always be given a pass. We see this with the tired old noble savage cliché and with the hesitancy by liberal feminists to call out religious fundamentalists in the Middle East and India for their misogyny towards women.

  20. This “noble savage” topic also reminded me of the historic “documentary” known as Nanook of the North. From what I’ve read, the heroic protagonist man given the name “Nanook” in the film really was a fine fellow, if not necessarily “noble”, but he was certainly embellished and made much more noble for the film. And if audience knew that one of his alleged wives in the documentary was actually the married white film-maker’s favorite local mistress, that may also have made the aboriginal people seem far more noble than than the visiting white man with the camera.

    Nanook of the North certainly did its best to exploit the noble savage myth, even if there was already much in the lives of the courageous and hardy aboriginal people to admire, as it exaggerated and fabricated whatever it could to make Nanook look even more courageous and even more noble. That image was cultivated even after the film’s release when the filmmaker told newspapers that Nanook had recently died on a dangerous hunt by himself as his family’s food supplies had run out. In actual fact, he had died of consumption (probably pneumonia) in a shack built by white men, much like he’d lived his entire life. (He knew how to make an igloo for the film but had rarely lived in one because the lifestyle of his grandfathers was largely gone even by his day.)

    From what I read of reviews at the time, 1922, audiences loved the film’s portrayal of a noble native people, largely scrubbed clean by the filmmaker to fit the noble (if not necessarily savage) aboriginal myth. When I first saw it as a student, there was much that I could have called politically-correct, if only the term had been around in those days.

    I have wondered if people tend to embrace the noble savage myth because of an inner hope for some sort of cosmic karma, an equalizer which penalizes with lack-of-virtue the all-too-wealthy and consumption-prone white man from a developed country while blessing the poor and deprived in the undeveloped world with an extra dose of virtue at birth that isn’t lost as they grow into adults.

  21. “Everyone on the Left knows that Jefferson was baaaaaaaaaaad…”

    Sure, and everyone on the right is a young earth creationist.

  22. “According to one end of the political spectrum, America is baaaaaaaaaaad and always has been…”

    Which is different then the other end of the political spectrum, whose candidates keep telling us that the US isn’t what it used to be, so we have to “Make America Great Again.”