Tuesday, June 28, 2016

I Digress...

As sometimes happens when I am incautious, I stumbled into an online argument over evolution. One of the arguments advanced for the "evolution did not happen," side was as follows:

Evolution was one of the things used to sponsor racism by accusing black people of being lesser evolved therefore being an animal and property and not human. All it takes to be ostracized or mistreated is to be dehumanized. That's what happens when people are objectified.
The idea that people of African descent were more advanced than monkeys, but less so than Europeans was well known, and well documented in colonial America, long before Darwin or even Lamarck. The fact that racists can use specific, cherry picked, aspects of a scientific theory to justify what they already want to believe is not the fault of or in that theory. White racists also used the story of Noah and the great flood to justify the enslavement of Africans, yet I haven't heard anyone seriously take that as proof that the Bible objectifies people, and therefore should be ignored in a color-blind society. So while I understand where my interlocutor was coming from, I have more respect for people who just say: "This theory makes me uncomfortable/doesn't make sense to me/doesn't square with the world as I observe it/contradicts other things I understand to be true, and thus, I choose to believe differently," than people who pick and choose which facts they consider relevant, so they can tell themselves that they're being objective.

But that, of course, is a recipe for being called closed-minded, incurious or even foolish. In other words, while I might have some respect for such a position, few other people do. Which is something of a shame. A Truth Reflex serves us little better as a society as it does for individuals.

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