Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Reasonable Doubts 55, Skeptoid


Back to Back

This week’s episode of Reasonable Doubts focused on the outstanding allegations that Charles Darwin was a racist, and he was aware that his thoughts on evolutions would necessarily and perhaps even properly lead to the extermination of lesser races and the basis of eugenics and Nazi thought.  Naturally, the show opened with the few unnecessary political swipes, blah, blah, blah nothing new on that front with Luke, Dave, and Jeremy.  They also partially recanted their discussion on the movie “Creation” not getting a distributor at the Toronto Film Festival by stating that it is very hard for any movie to find a distributor this year, and in the end “Creation” did get a distributor.  While they acknowledged they had probably overstated their case, they did not quite say they were wrong either.  Still, I applaud them for pointing out that they had been mistaken. 

Actually, this episode is a nice bookend to the Point of Inquiry interview of Benjamin Wiker of a couple weeks ago.  The long and the short of the Doubt Casters arguments are that Darwin was quite progressive in his thoughts regarding race and especially in his dislike of slavery.  However, Darwin to modern ears sounds pretty damn racist.  It is clear in his writing that he was still a man of the 19th century and considered Western European culture to be the ideal.  However, it is also clear that he thought that the prevalent idea of his time that the different races were actually different species was flat wrong.  The Doubt Casters also argue that the Nazis drew their ideas on race not from Darwin but from religious ideas of racial superiority that went back to times before Darwin. 

They did not delve into the realm of Darwin’s actual mechanisms of evolution as did Wiker in his second part of his interview on POI.  I believe that Luke, Dave, and Jeremy make a more compelling argument than Wiker.  Although to be fair, the only way to make  a more thorough and thoughtful decision is to read the Doubt Casters source material and Wiker's books.  Then near the end they made some more political commentary, blah, blah, blah and so it goes. [I really think the show has a blind spot when it comes to religion and politics.  The show knowingly or not seems put forth a stereotype that strong believer = evangelical = conservative = Republican = wrong.  There are a large number of non-Republican very religious people, obviously in this case, the United States.  There is also a chunk of Republicans out in the electorate who are not religious.  I think they detract from their show focusing a great deal (although not exclusively) on this view.  However, this a topic for another day. I just have to have my say again.] 

Skeptoid

You’re reading the Skeptical Review commenting on Skeptoid. This week Dunning tackled Network Marketing.  You know, those fine folks who get your friends, your friend’s friends, co-workers, and barely known neighbors, who show up at your house when you are cursing at the weedwacker for not starting and choose at this time of gardening distress to try to get you to buy or to also sell that weird over-priced fruit juice or skin lotion (or baskets, cooking tools, make up).  Dunning points out that almost nobody makes money using these business practices other than the maker of the ointment or juice maker.  While it is not illegal, it wastes more money than playing roulette in Las Vegas.  As always, Dunning is quick, concise, and entertaining. 

Dunning is always trying to get people to donate money to help pay for his show, get volunteers to do his bibliography work, and pitch his newest venture “In Fact.”  If Dunning were unscrupulous he would have stated how volunteer work for a good cause can make you large sums of money, or thought of some way for listeners to profit from getting new listeners to his show.  I guess that’s the probably with being a skeptic.  You might be honest, but you are much more likely to be poor. 

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