And some more from Lewontin’s The Doctrine of DNA
The transfer of causal power from social relations into inanimate agents that then seem to have a power and life of their own is one of the major mystifications of science and its ideologies
Which is an as readable, and enjoyable, argument against genetic reductionism as you could hope to find. I’m guessing that many people would say their reductionism is a methodological tactic rather than a ideological commitment, but Lewontin’s characterisation of popular discourse is accurate enough, i fear, to convince that however tactical genetic reductionism may be when adopted by scientists it becomes far less self-conscious as it migrates into the public sphere.
[note to self: avoid writing sentences that long and convoluted in the future]
Anyway: yes, society is not a reflection of individual level traits. Yes, organisms and environment co-create. Yes, locating causes in a single physical matter (like DNA) allows us to ignore the wider causal context. There’s lots to nit-pick about Lewontin’s arguments, but without the anchor of some particular example i think it would get so lost in the rhetorical and connotive terrain that it wouldn’t be worth it. Highly recommended
My friend James emails to say
I have received an exclamation mark-strewn plea from my niece to sign the petition to improve British school dinners currently being promoted by TV’s own loveable mockney pan-jockey He Who Must Not Be Named Lest The Sun Turn To Ashes And The Seas to Pus. I must say that I think this is a good idea, despite the abominably geezerish nature of its champion. It takes a moment to sign at:
Let’s free future generations from ‘pizza’ in those big silver trays, awful white buns with shocking pink icing, and the offal lottery of SAUSAGE ROLLS.
See you all soon.
Seems like a Good Thing, although when I tried to sign it someone had already used my email address and they won’t let me put my name down (cheeky!)
Many aikido videos here and here – including Saito Sensei doing some kumijo. Tip: watch the aikidojournal.com videos with the sound off
note to self:
no matter how low your per-attempt probability of success, the only way to ensure a hit rate of zero is not to make any attempts
[local news warning]
The local branch of the Medical Foundation (providing care & support for torture survivors) is sponsoring a screening of Imagining Argentina, starring Emma Thompson and Antonio Banderas at the Showroom on Thursday March 10, 6.30pm.
The film will be followed by a discussion led by a former prisoner of the Argentine junta, Perico Rodriguez, who was freed following a campaign by Amnesty Internationald and later helped found the Medical Foundation. Perico now works as a counsellor with the organisation.
More info here
My friend Cat has a collection of photos stored here here
Jefferson advised his nephew to “question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one, he must approve the homage of reason rather than of blindfolded fear”
found in Francis Wheen’s “How Mumbo Jumbo Conquered the World” (2004, p106)
When we run over libraries, persuaded of these principles, what havoc must we make? If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames, for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.
David Hume, The Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (Section xii, part III)