S. J. Gould/ was Re: Buzzwords (was)Judging Beauty

From: Technotranscendence (neptune@mars.superlink.net)
Date: Thu May 11 2000 - 09:05:55 MDT

On Tuesday, May 09, 2000 7:07 AM QueeneMUSE@aol.com wrote:
> > Also, in his _The Mismeasure of Man_, I think his goal is quite clear:
> > blacken the notion of general intelligence so badly as to make it
> > unpalatable. This he does not only by direct assault -- which, by the
> > he fails at -- but also by juxtaposing it with phrenology and the like.
> > I.e., he tries to associate what he does not like but might have some
> > credence with what is generally thought to be ridiculous.
> You see, already having discounted IQ testing at about age twelve, I did
> walk away from that book with that "goal" in mind. What I saw as his
> was to show how even scientists who truly believe they are doing honest
> research are mislead by their own beliefs, even him.

IQ testing might be flawed, but the notion of general intelligence might not
be. My point was not to support either, but to show that Gould is using
faulty arguments. Specifically, the juxtaposition I talk about above.
Also, if his goal "was to show how even scientists who truly believe they
are doing honest research are mislead by their own beliefs," he's very

I've read several of his books and his view seems to be this. Anyone who
supports a view which can be used against his egalitarian politics is
obviously bad intentioned, while if someone knowingly distorts a view to
support his eqalitarian politics, then that person is merely mistaken.

For instance, in _Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of
History_ -- incidentally, my favorite book of his -- he does his best to
paint Walcott as a farty conservative bigot. Granted, Walcott missed a
great opportunity, was extremely nearsighted (intellectually, that is), and
was also guilty of the "shoehorning" Gould accuses him of, but was this
because of Walcott's political views? (Note also, he does not go into the
politics of Harry Whittington, Derek Briggs, or Conway Morris.) I came away
from the book, which I recommend, with the view that Gould wanted his
readers to believe so.

Again: this is not a matter of me disagreeing with Gould's politics. (I
disagree with Albert Einstein's politics, which are laughable, but that
doesn't color my view of his spacetime theories. I imagine if Gould were a
Conservative and he wrote on Einstein, he would trace relativity theory back
to Einstein's socialism and debunk it from there.:) It's a matter of me
disagreeing with his reduction of everything else to politics or class
interest motives. (A very Marxist view of the world: everything is class
interest. Walcott was a rich, white male, so he had to support a certain
ideology, namely conservativism.) Surely, all sorts of thinkers err, but
they do not always err because of their political views.


Daniel Ust

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