How wrong can you be?

Darwin’s second big idea was that Nature is always ruthless: that the strong push out the weak, that compassion and compromise are for cissies whom Nature throws to the wall. Darwin borrowed the phrase “survival of the fittest” from the now forgotten and much discredited philosopher Herbert Spencer. He invented a consolation myth for the selfish class to which he belonged, to persuade them that their neglect of the poor, and the colossal gulf between them and the poor, was the way Nature intended things. He thought his class would outbreed the “savages” (ie the brown peoples of the globe) and the feckless, drunken Irish. Stubbornly, the unfittest survived. Brown, Jewish and Irish people had more babies than the Darwin class. The Darwinians then had to devise the hateful pseudo-science of eugenics, which was a scheme to prevent the poor from breeding.

Having more brats is, in Darwinian terms, being the fittest – having more brats that have brats is in fact the definition of it.

AN Wilson is definitely barking up the wrong tree here.

19 thoughts on “How wrong can you be?”

  1. But the article only points out that the fittest were not necessarily those predicted to be.
    The practical (as against moral) objection to eugenics is that nobody knows who is going to be the fittest. Therefore we simply have to wait and see.

  2. No good deed goes unpunished. A colonised Africa could be world power instead of a breading ground for barbarians. Paying the poor to have children means they can now vote for the destruction of western civilization. Ruthlessness works.

  3. Wilson did a year of a theology course at Oxford. His view of science is about as informed as my view of St John of the Cross.

  4. ” the hateful pseudo-science of eugenics”
    That’s the intellectual foundations of the Labour Party canned then. And Keynsian economics.

  5. Philip Scott Thomas

    Chris Miller – yes, he left St Stephen’s House at the end of his first year. A classmate of his once told me why. It seems the Head of the hall caught Wilson bonking the Head’s daughter on the kitchen table and as a result Wilson was rusticated.

  6. From the comments made by Tim and others here, I assume that none of you have read The Descent of Man. Wilson’s summary is more or less accurate if rather colourful. What Tim calls “Darwinian” are actually ideas of people not named Darwin.

  7. ” the hateful pseudo-science of eugenics”
    That’s the intellectual foundations of the Labour Party canned then. And Keynsian economics.

    And Progressivism in general.

  8. Fittest doesn’t mean strongest or best, it does. Or imply progress, Fittest means fittest to fill a particular environmental niche available at the time.

    If the environment includes a social niche where unmarried procreation e joys the rewards of free housing, money, energy and other benefits, then those most suited will breed and e pNd to fill the niche…..

  9. In evolution, “fittest” simply means more capable of passing on the genetic identity to the next generation. Normally, that’d imply faster, stronger, more aggressive … With an intelligent species it’ll be capability of producing the most children raised to breeding age.
    An far as the current UK population is concerned, the evolutionary “fittest” has to be the Afro Caribbean male.

  10. “Normally, that’d imply faster, stronger, more aggressive … ” What do you mean by “normally”? The fastest sloth wins?

  11. ‘the feckless, drunken Irish’

    I can’t believe people in England are allowed to say that! A constable should be knocking on his door.

  12. Dunno with sloths, dearieme. Maybe they compete to get on the branch to hang from ladder. Social climbers, as it were.

  13. Bloke in Costa Rica

    It would have been a neat trick for Darwin to have obtained the phrase “survival of the fittest” from Herbert Spencer bearing in mind Spencer coined it after having read On the Origin of Species. The idea that Darwin was a eugenicist is risible. If that’s the standard of Wislon’s scholarship then I guess we can skip reading his book. Oh, but there’re other howlers. Calling Eldredge and Gould “[t]he two most distinguished American palaeontologists of modern times” is just plain wrong. A failure to understand the distinction between punctuated equilibrium and phyletic gradualism does not inspire confidence in Wislon’s conclusion. Finally, to suggest rehabilitating Richard Owen in place of Darwin is a travesty. Owen was a monstrous shit of the first water and a very poor scholar. The whole article is an utter farrago of bollocks.

    I’ve always though Wislon was a Simon Jenkins-level bell-end. This is further grist for the mill.

  14. “Having more brats is, in Darwinian terms, being the fittest – having more brats that have brats is in fact the definition of it.”

    It’s not just about having more brats, it’s about having more of them survive.

    Up until recently, the death rate was high enough that despite everyone having six or eight kids, the population remained roughly constant. People have enough kids that roughly two should survive.

    When the death rate falls sharply, there’s a brief period of readjustment. For a few years people carry on having six or eight kids but they don’t die, and so the population increases. As they get rich and prosperous and healthy, they stop having so many kids. People of every race and ethnicity are exactly the same in this regard.

    The idea that those other races are “savages” was a due to and early confusion of culture with genetics. Both culture and genetics are inherited, thus giving rise to similar patterns, but culture mutates a lot faster, and also reproduces itself across genetic lines. People having six or eight kids only stop dying by adopting a different culture. That culture thereby spreads, by having more surviving descendants.

  15. Bicr Darwin did get the phrase ” survival of the fittest” from Herbert Spencer after it was brought to his attention by Wallace. My earlier comment still applies. You cannot critique someone’s account of something called Darwinism if you have no clue about Darwin. You make yourselves low rent versions of Tim Worstall

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