Monday, January 09, 2006

As a parent, I have never read anything so depressing

How, how, how does it happen?

John Rawls, perhaps the most important philosopher of the twentieth century, known for both his kindness and rigorous thinking, has a son who is far right conspiracy theorist and blogger. His current shtick is finding secret Islamic codes in the memorial to the Flight 93 victims. (It's a crescent, the shape that hates America! And it faces Mecca!). Then there is this bizarre quote that has been blasted by PZ Meyrs
Islamic terrorists planted 12 backpack bombs and the Spanish people surrendered. They immediately switched from supporting a Spanish government that had backed the war on terror to electing a socialist enemy of the war on terror. We now have a scientific measure of Spanish instincts. They can be described in one word: female.

Faced with the choice of whether to fight against a violent invasion or surrender to it, men and women face very different, sometimes opposite, biological imperatives. Throughout mankind’s evolutionary history, if a man fought against an invader he risked death in proportion to the strength of his foe, while if he surrendered, he faced almost certain death, at least in the biological sense. At best he would be enslaved and denied further access to females. Thus the reproductively more successful strategy for a man would almost always be to fight invaders, and this is how we should expect the male instincts to be programmed, according to the precepts of evolutionary psychology.

For a woman, fighting against an invader also risks death, but surrender offers much better reproductive prospects for women than for men. A woman’s reproductive capacity is part of the booty, often the primary booty, that invaders have always been after. Thus a fertile woman could almost be guaranteed that, with surrender, her reproductive capacity would not be wasted. This difference in biological incentives will have left women with stronger instincts to surrender.

European males and females both see the world in the instinctive female way, as the Spanish displayed last month. By choosing not to fight for their survival, the Spanish are, at the biological level, seeking to survive by making babies for the invader. Here in America, our women (or at least our Republican women), grow up thinking of themselves and their men as armed. Thus their rational faculties grasp that it makes sense to fight. Faced with an attacker, it is the female instinct that gets overruled.

Such good girls, even helping out behind the lines while our boys methodically stuff the Jihadis into the meat grinder. There is a long way to go, but women, don’t worry. We will never let the vermin take you. You can go to them if you want, the flakes amongst you. We allow you your weakness. What we love is your strength.
I like PZ's response
Mr Rawls is simply making it all up. Human strategies for survival and reproduction have long been much, much more complicated than killing our enemies and raping their women. ...
I despise people who invent "instinctive natures". It's always a crude rationalization, an attempt to impose a demand that other people act in some undesirable way ('You. Go work. It's your nature.') while justifying their own indulgence in stupid, barbarous behaviors ('I'm gonna beat you up. It's my nature.') There's nothing instinctive about any of this. I wish Rawls could spare biology the shame of dragging his bastardized, dim-witted version of evolution into his argument.
But really mocking people like Alec Rawls is a rather low enterprise. The real question on everyone's mind is "How did John Rawls wind up producing such an ignorant, misogynist child?" I have an even more pressing question: "How do I keep my children from growing up to be thoughtless and bigoted?” If it can happen to Rawls, it can happen to anyone, right? How can I be assured that my children will come out like Jo(e)’s?

Should I just take Jo(e)’s children?

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