James Randi: Let Survival of the Fittest “Act Itself Out”

JamesRandiBilbao1

James Randi, Skeptic… you betcha. Tolerant… not so much. via Daily Grail

I’ve previously posted here about the Social Darwinist-leaning comments of James ‘The Amazing’ Randi, such as this entry on his website where he supported the legalization of drugs, apparently largely for the simple reason that it would kill off a lot of people he doesn’t like:

“[T]hose individuals who were stupid enough to rush into the arms of the mythical houris and/or Adonis‘s they would expect to greet them, would simply do so and die – by whatever chemical or biological fate would overcome them… [T]he principle of Survival of the Fittest would draconically prove itself for a couple of years, after which Natural Selection would weed out those for whom there is no hope except through our forbearance.

…Any weeping and wailing over the Poor Little Kids who would perish by immediately gobbling down pills and injecting poison, is summoning up crocodile tears, in my opinion. They would – and presently do – mature into grown-up idiots, and Darwin would be appalled that his lessons were ignored.”

One of the biggest surprises to me has been the almost complete lack of comment on these controversal opinions by other skeptics, and scientists who support Randi. The star of this legendary skeptic seems to burn so bright in the scientific firmament that his acolytes are blinded to some of his darker traits, such as his ‘creative’ recounting of events and the Social Darwinist leanings illustrated above.

However, that may change with the publication today of The Heretics: Adventures with the Enemies of Science, by Will Storr, which is a book-length exploration of this human tendency to blindness in people from all walks of life, including those who regard themselves as ‘critical thinkers’. My full review of Storr’s book will follow in the next day or so here on TDG, but for now I wanted to pull out a short section from the book where the author sat down with Randi and asked him directly about the controversial post I linked to above. It really should grab the attention of anybody who looks up to Randi, because when challenged on his comments, Randi did not recant, but instead apparently expanded on his thoughts, and explicitly confirmed their meaning:

“I’m a believer in Social Darwinism. Not in every case. I would do anything to stop a twelve-year-old kid from doing it. Sincerely. But in general, I think that Darwinism, survival of the fittest, should be allowed to act itself out. As long as it doesn’t interfere with me and other sensible, rational people who could be affected by it. Innocent people, in other words.”

Apart from contradicting his previous comments about “crocodile tears” for the “the Poor Little Kids” who would “mature into grown-up idiots”, Randi here comes straight out and nails his colours to the mast: “sensible, rational people” (like him, apparently) are “innocents” who don’t deserve to be “affected” by his extreme views of survival of the fittest, but everyone else is fair game. Why do they deserve this fate? Because, says Randi…

“These are stupid people. And if they can’t survive, they don’t have the IQ, don’t have the thinking power to be able to survive, it’s unfortunate; I would hate to see it happen, but at the same time, it would clear the air.”

Please do read that paragraph again. If you didn’t get at least a metaphorical shiver down your spine, I don’t know where your head is at.

Oh, and people with inherited mental illness, Randi also apparently wants the contraception squad sent out for you:

“I think that people with mental aberrations who have family histories of inherited diseases and such, that something should be done seriously to educate them to prevent them from procreating. I think they should be gathered together in a suitable place and have it demonstrated for them what their procreation would mean for the human race.”

I know some other folk who were “gathered together in a suitable place” because another bunch of people didn’t want them contaminating the human race (trying my hardest not to invoke Godwin here, but when you’re traveling in the same territory…).

There’s lots more of interest in the chapter on Randi – I’ve only touched on one excerpt here – and indeed in the whole book. It’s a fascinating exploration of our how we all have belief systems, a tendency to self-deception and the in-built ability to ignore facts as necessary. If Will Storr’s transcription of his entire interview with Randi is accurate (and I raise that question in the spirit of the book itself, not because I have particular doubts about the author’s account), this really should bring about the serious criticism of Randi that has so far been lacking within the skeptical movement, and which I have been encouraging for some time.

 

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  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    I was out on a walk during a light rain and the “survival of the fittest” concept popped into my mind. I walked a bit and came across a slug.going something like .0001 MPH. Makes you wonder what “fittest” really means (I always say it as “survival of the fit enough for the current environment”)

    “…that something should be done seriously to educate them to prevent them from procreating.”

    Also to something like this. Many times attempting to force evolution will create its opposite. For example, the “fittest” among people with the “don’t procreate!!!” meme in the environment are the people who believe they should definitely procreate no matter what someone like James Randi says. Much the same way antibiotic resistance comes about.

    • http://dailygrail.com/ Red Pill Junkie

      The ‘survival of the fittest’ concept was introduced into social studies & politics to try to justify an attitude of ‘every man for himself.’ Social Darwinists would point to chimpanzees, our closest biological relatives, to illustrate how greed & competition was the natural way to run a society.

      But then the concept began to take a lot of blows with the gathering of conflicting evidence. We learned that Neanderthals cared for their elderly & wounded, taking turns to feed them instead of tossing into the wild like discarded trash. And then we learned about the bonobos, and how their matriarchal society is more interested in sex & cooperation than in violent competition.

      As for the Randi fans, back when Greg wrote that post there were some weak attempts to justify the quote, even going so far as to blame the author of The Heretics of misquoting Randi, something that was proved to be totally false thanks to skeptic blogger Hayley Stevens –the founder of the JREF tried to claim that until then he didn’t know what Social Darwinism was! A rather baffling thing to consider, especially for a man who runs an educational foundation…

      Randi tried to backpedal a bit, but ended up confirming his belief that the world would be better off if drug addicts were left unattended. Which is weird because here’s a man who insists his goal behind the JREF is to help all those poor people who get bamboozled by fake psychics. So if you’re a supporter of Social Darwinism, why the double standards?

    • kowalityjesus

      This myopic and insensitive line of thought will perish before evolution, not the “weak.” Anyone who doesn’t have the good sense to help and hold concern for their neighbor will learn the hard way, in this life and the next.

  • Donald Boucher

    I don’t feel the sense of outrage you are trying to convey. James Randi makes sense. People should be allowed to make stupid decisions and to suffer the consequences.

    Why should the nanny state tell Mr. Smith: “Meth will destroy your life, hence we will make it illegal, to protect you?”

    • echar

      *smacks Donald Boucher over the head with a lead pipe knocking him down to the ground. While he’s down and dazed I piss on his face. I had to go. Then I finish him off with a few more wacks of the lead pipe*

      While the blood puddles out of his cracked skull I say:

      “Dumb fuck shouldn’t have opened his mouth and said something so ignorant. I can’t suffer the world such a dimwitted, thought virus spewing moron to walk about. Surely he will infect others with his idiocy.”

      Does that make sense?

      • Adamas Macalz

        I think so, and if you disagree feel free to try and hit me with a lead pipe lol

        • echar

          You get a gold star

          • Adamas Macalz

            awesome… Isn’t that like maslows bell for anyone who went through kindergarten?

          • echar

            Shhh, they mustn’t know. It will break their little hearts.

  • Ted Heistman

    James Randi looks like Gandalf?

    • DeepCough

      That is clearly the scowl of Saruman if I ever saw it.

      • http://dailygrail.com/ Red Pill Junkie

        Thank you :)

  • DeepCough

    “The kid who swallows the most marbles doesn’t grow up to have kids of his own.
    Just think of it as ‘Passive Eugenics.'” ~George Carlin

  • Ghostlore

    James Randi:
    What. A. Tool.

  • Reasor

    I’m curious to know what the author thinks skepticism is. A movement, as the article describes it? A cult of personality? Is there anyone familiar with Randi who doesn’t know that he can be a real ass sometimes? I’m all for calling an asshole an asshole, but does that do anything to discredit the work that Randi has done to expose con artists and frauds?

    • http://dailygrail.com/ Red Pill Junkie

      In a way it does, because here you have James Randi, world famous defender of Rationalism, upholding a completely *irrational* & unscientific belief.

    • Harold Annen

      Does it do anything to discredit his work? Possibly. If Randi was just an expert in frauds and cons, the dubious beliefs he appears to hold would be of less import on his work. However, Randi postures himself as a paragon of scientific and skeptical thought. If he’s just another crank, then, maybe his work is not scientific or skeptical,but, just, well, cranky.

  • gustave courbet

    I dearly hope that his viewpoint is rare within the academic skeptic community, because it is one of brutal totalitarian eugenics. It is surprising to hear from a so called ‘rational’ speaker. I guess he would have us leave mentally retarded or developmentally challenged babies to the buzzards.

  • John

    In my opinion survival of the fittest is one of the least intelligent theories to have been formulated and James Randy demonstrates his own inferior IQ by adherring to it. Logic dictates that if it is true, we should destroy or kill off anything that doesnt obviously contribute to our absolute own survival. That, imho is just plain retardation. We as human being thrive and enjoy a world of diversity. It is what makes our lives and experiences rich. It also provides mechanisms for learning new lessons and actually evolving further. Who wants to live in a supposed perfect world where life would likely be static and boring?

    • Calypso_1

      Logic dictates no such thing.

  • Andrew

    Interesting that Randi doesn’t say anything about those whose sole “contribution” to humanity is hoarding tokens of exchange through mathematical and psychological tricks. What are they really fit for?

    • rtb61

      Randi has made the typical mistake. Humanity is a social species, not an individualistic species. With regard to survival of the fittest, it is humanity vs the rest and not humans vs humans.
      This would be tantamount to accepting a burglar who breaks into people’s house’s kills them and steals their stuff as being acceptable, as it is survival of the fittest and obviously those weak home owners and their families had no right to survive as the homicidal burglar was fitter.
      Better to say people are responsible for their choices as long as they are fully informed of the consequence of that choice and no deceit was involved. So using drugs unto your own demise, is your responsibility, as long as you were fully informed of the consequences of your choice and in the case of addictive substance provided the opportunity to break you addiction as the cost of the person or persons who sold you the addictive substance, as well as any medical expenses resultant from the use of that substance.

      • emperorreagan

        I think people who espouse social darwinism typically lack self awareness.

        Someone like Randi is so tied up in their own ego that they are unable to see what aspects of society allowed them to reach their current position. They are unable to reflect on how their life may have gone differently without various protections and benefits the state and society grant.

        It’s not a surprise, though, as public proponents of social darwinism tend to be famous…and the pursuit of fame is self-selecting for narcissists. Lack of self-awareness and self aggrandizement are par for that course – and Randi is a dude that hits a lot of birdies.

        • Lookinfor Buford

          I agree, except your twisted understanding of how benefits of public cooperation manifest. The state doesn’t create anything of value, except at the behest and expense of the public. The state itself is such a construct. And it is worthless as an entity left to it’s own devices.

          But, to your other point, it is a lack of self-awareness that leads to this rigid type of thinking. Also, age. And most ironically, probably, lack of the right ‘drugs’ to help reach higher enlightenment, higher understanding, and the ability to eschew blanket generalizations.

          • emperorreagan

            My mention of the state was more intended to allude to Andrew’s original comment on this thread – the hoarding of tokens of exchange – not that I think it has any value in itself.

            The threat of force the state offers is inherent in allowing/protecting said hoarding. And social darwinism in the US is at least in part a current of thought running from a gilded age justification for the accumulation of wealth.

          • Lookinfor Buford

            Not to contend, but what you and Andrew refer to as hoarding, I see as merely a side effect, though it is an important one. But more important I think, it to realize that without a measure of SD, the competitive spirit allowed to flourish, the state would be useless, and necessarily, authoritarian. You can’t have it both ways.

          • Andrew

            For competition to act as a generator or engine for society, it needs regulation to push against, just as a mill needs a water wheel.

            Also, I believe social Darwinism isn’t really a policy, but a fact of life. My point is that our society is set up to unnaturally select for those who can juggle numbers and cheat workers, inventors, creatives, and true entrepreneurs. Those latter four are necessary to the survival of humanity, while the former are not. I’m not arguing against all capitalism, merely finance capitalism, which places the cart of money before the horse of production and real wealth. It’s a matter of priorities; when you place monetary profit before human needs, making those needs dependent on finance, then you eventually get advertising psychologically designed to deceive and mislead, products designed to addict, and poisons in your food, water and air.

          • emperorreagan

            I don’t believe in social darwinism at all. I think Henry Spencer was a troll and it’s a misappropriation of biological ideas to justify shitty political and economic theories…without the empirical evidence one should demand for something masquerading under scientific nomenclature.

          • Andrew

            Epigenetic inheritance certainly seems neo-Lamarckian.

          • emperorreagan

            Are there pop-science books that attempt to explain everything with epigenetics yet?

          • Andrew

            Not that I know of.

          • gustave courbet

            That’s the first thing that occurred to me when I learned of epigenetics.

          • fuzzmello

            Herbert.

          • emperorreagan

            I think the state is already useless and authoritarian and stifles both cooperation and competition.

        • gustave courbet

          Well said

    • Lookinfor Buford

      Also, Andrew, surely you don’t believe that the typical tycoon’s sole contribution is hoarding. How is that even a contribution? Do you fall under the same spell of didactic generalization as Randi?
      Do you really believe that along the way, the tycoon contributed nothing of value to society? Nothing that helped others? If you do, I’d love to debate it with you. It’s always great to enter a debate with such an assured victory.

      • Andrew

        I wasn’t talking about tycoons, I was talking about financiers, bankers, and stockbrokers. And I don’t claim there are no exceptions.

  • atlanticus

    Well, you know, he’s old, so I guess I shouldn’t shed any “crocodile tears” if someone younger and more fit than he is clobbers him and steals his property. Social Darwinism?

    • Eric_D_Read

      There’s the rub. Most prominent “Social Darwinists” tend to also be fanatical authoritarians.
      If they were true Anarchists I could at least give them credit for logical consistency.

  • emperorreagan

    I like to propose social darwinism from the point of view that I would be among the fittest and therefore my life would be way better without the rest of you chaff!

    • echar

      I already claimed myself to be the fittest, you can be # 2 though.

      • emperorreagan

        That’s cool. I figure at least the first couple thousand get a pass.

        • echar

          You passed the test. You are now # 1.

          • Eric_D_Read

            As the self-proclaimed fittest; I say there’s only one way to settle this…Thunderdome.

          • echar

            Will there be an awful Tina Turner theme song?

          • emperorreagan

            Absolutely. The Swiss have sworn to preserve her in case of just such an event.

          • echar

            Ooh ooh… can it be We actually do need another hero?

          • Eric_D_Read

            All I can confirm is that I intend to wear a giant steel helmet and an old, mouthy midget.

          • echar

            This is in no way a silent dog whistle. Nope!

          • Eric_D_Read

            Uh-oh. Good thing I have all that hearing loss from listening to loud music, rendering me immune to dog whistles. Muahahahahahahah!!!!!

          • echar

            Crap! *thinks fast*

            Aha!

            *Plays MMM Bop by Hanson, Justin Bieber, and all other modern crappy pop songs really loud at the same time*

          • Eric_D_Read

            That would merely increase the destructive fury. (Eric SMASH!)
            Nice try though.

          • echar

            Oh pardon, I didn’t know what a battle to the death was before beginning (pulls a Randi) I’ll be leaving now.

            Can someone please unlock the dome so I may leave. It’s a total misunderstanding.

          • Andrew

            I’d listen to that.

          • echar

            Sadly it may be a more interesting song than each on their own.

  • Hoarfraust

    James Randi is a narcissistic douchebag.

  • MadHierophant

    Skeptics! So much more rational theists who what to kill people they don’t like for crazy reaso– oh, wait.

  • Adam’s Shadow

    It’s ironic that Randi is for any form of Social Darwinism, seeing as how he is gay and he would be considered an “undesirable” by many fellow Social Darwinists, both past and present. Seriously, does no one study their fucking history anymore?

    • ersatz

      exactly.

    • bobbiethejean

      He does not support Social Darwinism, he supports DARWINIAN Darwinism. There is a BIG difference. It sounds to me like he misspoke.

      • echar

        I’m a believer in Social Darwinism.
        Not in every case. I would do anything to stop a twelve-year-old kid
        from doing it. Sincerely. But in general, I think that Darwinism,
        survival of the fittest, should be allowed to act itself out. As long as
        it doesn’t interfere with me and other sensible, rational people who
        could be affected by it. Innocent people, in other words.

        James Randi

        • bobbiethejean

          I think Randi is mistaken. I believe he had to have misspoken because he is not describing social Darwinism, he’s describing Darwinian Darwinism.

          Darwinism is completely different than social Darwinism. Social Darwinism was made up by asshole, sociopath conservatives who think poor people are lazy leaches who should be left to rot.

          Does Randi believe poor people are leaches who should be left to rot? I haven’t ever heard him say any such thing before. Thus, I think he misspoke. Or I sure as hell hope he misspoke. If it turned out he knows the difference and still supports it, I would not defend him.

          I think he simply used the wrong words.

          • emperorreagan

            Don’t worry, Randi has issued a rambling mea culpa. You’ve got the cover to believe that even though the original quote is social darwinism in content, he didn’t mean it, and he didn’t know what social darwinism meant when he asserted that he was one.

          • bobbiethejean

            It did not sound like social Darwinism to me. The way I interpreted it was just plain Darwinism- let stupid people weed themselves out. That’s not the same thing as social Darwinism. I choose to believe that it is likely he misspoke. I don’t think I am being unreasonable. And if it turns out I am wrong and he really is a proponent of real actual social Darwinism (i.e. fucking over poor people), then he is a hypocritical asshole and I would not defend him one bit.

          • emperorreagan

            Let stupid people weed themselves out in the context of our society is social darwinism.

            Opportunity is not evenly distributed. When you make a comment like legalize drugs and let the survival of the fitness take its course, you’re explicitly supporting social darwinism.

            Born into the right family? You can spend the first 30 years of your life in a coke and alcohol fueled haze, get into a good school, run a couple of companies into the ground, then become president.

            Born into the wrong family? You grow up in poverty, perhaps suffer from PTSD (as many children in poor urban areas do). Spend your first 30 years in a drug and alcohol fueled haze? You’re probably fucked, even if it’s legal.

          • bobbiethejean

            My objection to classifying Darwinism and Social Darwinism as being essentially the same or similar or even remotely alike is that one is a fact and the other is a really shitty opinion typically held by malevolent sociopaths. It’s that simple. They are two different things. Yes, there is an underlying concept that is the same but the same can be said about a lot of things that are very different. Chess and debate are two very different things but there is are similar underlying concepts. Yet no one would argue that they are the same thing or even really all that similar ultimately. See what I’m getting at?

          • emperorreagan

            Oh, I agree. Social Darwinism has absolutely nothing to do with modern evolutionary theory. It was a poorly conceived, elitist philosophy that completely misapplied a scientific concept as one of its premises.

            Where I disagree is Randi’s initial comment having anything at all to do with scientific evolutionary theory. Randi’s statement about drug legalization and survival of the fittest is a philosophical sentiment of a social darwinist bent. And the follow up quotes in the article above affirm that sentiment.

            And I think Randi’s response to the quotes – to say that he didn’t know what social Darwinism is and never would have said it, but the conversation must have happened as Storr said (because, you know, it was taped)…then to walk the statement back slightly before turning around and talking about survival of the fittest again…then going on how he doesn’t understand why people use drugs in the face of the public campaigns against them…. is indicative of someone who can’t walk away from the sentiment.

          • bobbiethejean

            Hm. I guess what my overarching problem here is that these statements he made are massively discrepant from an entire lifetime of liberalism (or at least I’ve interpreted him as being very liberal. I could be wrong). It would be like Hilter one day randomly deciding, ya know what? I love Jews. Jews are awesome. Or maybe this is just a bad case of hero-worship crashing down around me. I followed Randi for a good while though maybe hero-worship is too strong. I admired him and I liked him.

            Whatever the case may be, it is abundantly clear that the words he said are indefensible however he meant them.

          • emperorreagan

            I don’t think that sort of disconnect is particularly uncommon. I think that for some people, there’s a disconnect between the broad-minded principles they support ideally and actual specifics/interactions.

            One of the jurisdictions my wife practices law in is one of the top 10 richest counties in the country and I’ve seen it ranked as number 2 on a most liberal-friendly county list.

            She represents low income and primarily minority women and says the judiciary/lawyers she encounters there are the most racist, misogynist, and classist of anywhere she practices.

          • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

            oddly enough, specific racism (vs individuals) and general racism (vs classes of people) do not always go hand in hand. which seems to go for every kind of bigotry

          • echar

            Clearly, you have a lot of faith in the skeptical Christ.

          • bobbiethejean

            No, not really. I simply prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt, especially when the evidence is in their favor. The guy is an outspoken liberal, at least as far as I know. If the guy was a rightwinger, I wouldn’t think twice because a lot of them ARE outspoken, unabashed Social Darwinists.

          • echar

            Oh, he must have been smoking crack that day.

          • bobbiethejean

            Maybe. Or maybe he was having a bad day. Or maybe he misspoke. Or maybe he really is that big a dickhead. I don’t know for sure but I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.

          • echar

            Or maybe all the pills he takes in his schtick got to his head.

            Or maybe you are making excuses for him.

          • bobbiethejean

            Or maybe I’m just being logical and you’re being a malicious asshole for no good reason. I suppose that’s also a possibility. Like I’ve said, if he’s actually a social Darwinist, I am not going to defend him. So stop pressing the issue.

          • echar

            The proof is straight out of the horses mouth, and yet you deny. When he has a history of lying and being decptive when caught.

            Ask Rupert Sheldrake about the benefit of the doubt given by Randi, the believer in social darwinism. The claims he made, then later said he had results on, then back pedalling once Sheldrake insisted on seeing the results. But I supose he’s a quack, and not a respected research Fellow of the Royal Society.

            No where near as impressive as a stage magician (professional liar) making his name and money on being rude. He doesn’t stop there though, he sets the example for a whole generation of people who look up to his paternal “wisdom”. Hoisting him up like some singular vision skeptical messiah.

            Maliscious asshole, huh? Are you sure you’re not confusing me for Randi? Maybe I am holding a mirror up. I am sure you can find validation in excusing Randi in the scientism community. Besides, I doubt you even understand how rude you’ve been in the past even without intending.

            Hey maybe I am delusional, and Randi farts rainbows… Because you are totally logical and stuff.

          • bobbiethejean

            Now I know you’re completely off the rail if you think I should be trusting a known quack like Sheldrake. Conversation over.

          • ersatz

            unfortunately doug henning didn’t have the same scientific clout,and devoted followers that randi still has.

          • echar

            His mullet alone holds clout, in my book. He should have become a public pill freak, gobbling thme on stage and then selling his book and school. He could-a been a contenda.

          • echar

            Oh and nevermind I didn’t understand who James Randi was

            *pulls out the plausible deniabilty card*

          • bobbiethejean

            Never said I didn’t know who he is. I know exactly who he is which is why I am inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt in hopes that he doesn’t really mean what it sounded like he meant. If he did mean it, then he is an indefensible asshole. How many times do I have to say this? Do you not understand simple English? Jesus fuck. Leave me alone already, you annoying pain in the ass.

          • echar

            I said I didn’t understand who he was. Essentially pulling a James Randi on this, so I can back pedal because plausable deniability.

          • bobbiethejean

            You need to communicate more clearly then because it sounded like you were accusing me of thinking about playing the “well I didn’t really know who he is” card.

          • echar

            You need to read more carefully, and think about it before posting. Don’t blame me on your mistakes, take accountability.

          • bobbiethejean

            No, YOU need to take accountability, you clown. Learn some simple grammar.

            “Oh and nevermind I didn’t understand who James Randi was

            *pulls out the plausible deniabilty card*”

            That could be interpreted in a number of different ways due to its lack of punctuation and proper syntax. Stop trying to blame your egregious failure at simple grammar on me. Now fuck off. I’m tried of you and your idiocy.

          • echar

            SorryI am not logical enough to be as awesome as you to fall for the grammar nazi card Guess who else believed in and excused social darwinism also elitism thats rite the nazis I have tired of you run along and play with others who drank your brand of koolaid let the big dogs create something special

          • Andrew

            Godwin! Debate over! Nobody can make any more comments in this thread!

          • echar

            lol, thank you. This is more of a footnote, and not a comment.

          • bobbiethejean

            Since you don’t seem to be aware: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law

          • bobbiethejean

            There is a difference between being a grammar nazi (which I am not) and pointing out a fatal error in communication that precludes me from fully understanding what you mean.

            Furthermore, I am not defending Social Darwinism and if Randi meant what he said (which I question) then I’m not defending him either. You are flatly wrong. By the way, nice Hilter card, jackass. You really did yourself a favor laying THAT one face up on the table. If this were a game of poker, congrats, you just lost, horrendously.

          • echar

            Derp what… I am an illogical idiot. STFU>

          • bobbiethejean

            First rule of holes: When you’re in one, stop digging.

          • echar

            Says the person who worships the guy who believes in social darwinism.

          • bobbiethejean

            See, now you’re just being silly because you know you’ve lost. I haven’t followed James Randi for a long time and even when I did, at most, I moderately liked the guy. Furthermore, I have said, multiple times that if he meant what he said, I would not defend him. You’re grasping at straws and just making yourself look stupid. Do yourself a favor and stop digging.

          • echar

            I was making fun of your weak argument, by using another weak argument. Much like the weak tactic Randi used to back out of when he realised how fucked up his words really are. You appear to be too green to understand this, or maybe you worship him.

            Don’t know, don’t care anymore. Notice I’ve not called you any names. That is also weak. Accept it, Randi is a con, most everyone on this site can see it plain as day. If not, cool, I accept that. Next time you get personal with me, you will regret it. That is a promise.

          • bobbiethejean

            How can you make fun of my argument when you apparently don’t understand it? I worship James Randi? Really? Just because I’m willing to give an extremely old man who has otherwise shown himself to be very liberal, the benefit of the doubt? That means I worship him? You really are a complete duncecap. And anyway, as I’ve said, if he really did mean what it sounded like he said, then I would not defend him.

            By the way, I love how you boast about not calling me names then immediately follow that up with a threat. Next time you get personal with me, you will regret it. That is a promise. OOOooooOOOooooOOOooohhh! I’m so afraid! Do you have like, a super secret internet gestapo who will come to my house and arrest me? *snicker*

          • ersatz

            yet,randi simply parroted a eugenical ideology which includes discouraging people who are cited/deemed as mentally or genetically unfit from reproducing.

            so what type of ‘education’ and demonstration would be suggested as the means of persuasion,coercion and discouragement?…how would he explain to those cited,why they shouldn’t procreate?

            considering you’ve insisted you know what randi means ,then by all means,please feel free to answer these questions as he would.

          • bobbiethejean

            I never said I KNOW what he means, jackass. I said I would give him the benefit of the doubt and I hope he didn’t mean what it sounded like. I would hope that he misspoke. It would be awfully strange to hear such opinions coming from a gay, atheist, liberal.

      • Adam’s Shadow

        I am aware of the big difference: I am aware that one is a popular scientific theory with a great deal of supporting evidence from a variety of fields, and the other is a quasi-racist philosophy endorsed by sociopaths and oligarchs the world over. I am also aware that he may not be on the same level as Paul Ryan, but he does support some form of Social Darwinism, because, as Echar pointed out below, THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT HE SAID.

        P.S. CAPS LOCK CAPS LOCK CAPS LOCK.

        • bobbiethejean

          I think Randi is mistaken. I firmly believe he had to have mispoken
          because he is not describing social Darwinism, he’s describing Darwinian Darwinism.

      • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

        Social Darwinian evolution -IS- DARWINIAN Darwinian evolution.

        Nonetheless Darwinian Darwinian evolution is still incomplete evolutionary theory. (given many attribute the more complete form to Darwin, which is what I suppose the confusion you are having here).

        • bobbiethejean

          They are two completely separate and wholly unrelated concepts that share nothing more than part of a name. Darwinism is evolution by means of natural selection. Social Darwinism is the “survival of the fittest” concept applied to economics. One describes the natural phenomenon of evolution, the other is a socioeconomic and political worldview maintaining that, basically, fuck the poor.

          I’m not having any confusion here. I know exactly what Darwinism is and what evolution is and I certainly don’t need to be lectured about it by someone who can’t differentiate science from politics, thank you.

          • atlanticus

            I wonder if people are reading “social Darwinism” and not realizing it’s
            “Social Darwinism”. Capital letters can make all the difference when
            describing a proper noun, regardless of the actual grammar.

            The Wikipedia entry is, uh, enlightening: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Darwinism

          • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

            No, it is one single concept applied to two mildly separate and somewhat unrelated terrains. It is still a limited concept no matter where it is applied, and the ugliness arises in both situations.

            You are confused because you assume that evolution in no way applies to socioeconomic and political situations. You are also confused because you assume natural selection, and Darwin’s perspective is sufficient to completely explain evolution.

            Edit: Re-reading some things, what exactly do you think social darwinism is? From the looks of it, it seems you think social darwinism is something other than applying theories of natural selection etc. to groups and members of a single species (namely humans). Mind clarifying?

          • bobbiethejean

            what exactly do you think social darwinism is

            Social Darwinism, as I understand it, is the idea that poor people should not be helped because they deserve to be poor. They got that way because they are inferior. Rich people got rich because they are superior and deserve to be rich. The poor should never be helped or aided but left to fend for themselves. If poor children suffer because of this, oh well. If poverty perpetuates cyclically through generations because of this, oh well. That is social Darwinism.

            The reason I so vehemently oppose them being classed together or being similar is because Darwinism is simply an aspect of evolution whereas social Darwinism is an absolutely hideous, sociopathic political worldview that, again, basically, fuck the poor. Yes, it is true, the survival of the fittest concept is there but the underlying subject matters the concept is being applied to are completely different.

            Am I articulating my point clearly? Darwinian evolution = explanation for the richness and diversity on life on earth. As far as we know, it is a fact. Social Darwinism, hideous sociopathy and also not a fact. That poor people should be left to rot is an opinion. See what I mean?

          • Andrew

            Multiple incompatible definitions

            As social Darwinism has many definitions, it is hard for some to be
            either for or against it; some of the definitions oppose the others. As The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics states

            Part of the difficulty in establishing sensible and consistent usage
            is that commitment to the biology of natural selection and to ‘survival
            of the fittest’ entailed nothing uniform either for sociological method
            or for political doctrine. A ‘social Darwinist’ could just as well be a
            defender of laissez-faire as a defender of state socialism, just as
            much an imperialist as a domestic eugenist.[40]

            Nazism, eugenics, fascism, imperialism

            Therefore, Fascist and National Socialist
            ideology subscribed to a different form of social Darwinism than the
            laissez-faire version because they were not advocates for an individualist
            order of society, rather they advocated racial and national struggle
            where the state planned and controlled human breeding through science
            and eugenics—a program that no proponent of laissez-faire could
            consistently endorse.[41]
            “Darwinian collectivism” or “Reform Darwinism”, rather than the
            individualist form of Darwinism, might be more accurate terms for these
            ideologies.[4]

            Some pre-twentieth century doctrines subsequently described as social Darwinism appear to anticipate state imposed eugenics [4] and the race doctrines of Nazism. Critics have frequently linked evolution, Charles Darwin and social Darwinism with racialism, nationalism, imperialism
            and eugenics, contending that social Darwinism became one of the
            pillars of fascism and Nazi ideology, and that the consequences of the
            application of policies of “survival of the fittest” by Nazi Germany eventually created a very strong backlash against the theory.[42][43]

            As mentioned above, social Darwinism has often been linked to nationalism and imperialism.[44]
            During the age of New Imperialism, the concepts of evolution justified
            the exploitation of “lesser breeds without the law” by “superior races.”[44]
            To elitists, strong nations were composed of white people who were
            successful at expanding their empires, and as such, these strong nations
            would survive in the struggle for dominance.[44]
            With this attitude, Europeans, except for Christian missionaries,
            seldom adopted the customs and languages of local people under their
            empires.[44]

            Peter Kropotkin – Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution

            Peter Kropotkin argued in his 1902 book Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution
            that Darwin did not define the fittest as the strongest, or most
            clever, but recognized that the fittest could be those who cooperated
            with each other. In many animal societies, “struggle is replaced by
            co-operation.”

            It may be that at the outset Darwin himself was not fully aware of
            the generality of the factor which he first invoked for explaining one
            series only of facts relative to the accumulation of individual
            variations in incipient species. But he foresaw that the term
            [evolution] which he was introducing into science would lose its
            philosophical and its only true meaning if it were to be used in its
            narrow sense only—that of a struggle between separate individuals for
            the sheer means of existence. And at the very beginning of his memorable
            work he insisted upon the term being taken in its “large and
            metaphorical sense including dependence of one being on another, and
            including (which is more important) not only the life of the individual,
            but success in leaving progeny.” [Quoting Origin of Species, chap. iii, p. 62 of first edition.]

            While he himself was chiefly using the term in its narrow sense for
            his own special purpose, he warned his followers against committing the
            error (which he seems once to have committed himself) of overrating its
            narrow meaning. In The Descent of Man
            he gave some powerful pages to illustrate its proper, wide sense. He
            pointed out how, in numberless animal societies, the struggle between
            separate individuals for the means of existence disappears, how struggle
            is replaced by co-operation, and how that substitution results in the
            development of intellectual and moral faculties which secure to the
            species the best conditions for survival. He intimated that in such
            cases the fittest are not the physically strongest, nor the cunningest,
            but those who learn to combine so as mutually to support each other,
            strong and weak alike, for the welfare of the community. “Those
            communities,” he wrote, “which included the greatest number of the most
            sympathetic members would flourish best, and rear the greatest number of
            offspring” (2nd edit., p. 163). The term, which originated from the
            narrow Malthusian conception of competition between each and all, thus
            lost its narrowness in the mind of one who knew Nature.[45]

            Noam Chomsky discussed briefly Kropotkin’s views in a July 8, 2011 YouTube video from Renegade Economist, in which he said Kropotkin argued

            …the exact opposite [of Social Darwinism]. He argued that on
            Darwinian grounds, you would expect cooperation and mutual aid to
            develop leading towards community, workers’ control and so on. Well, you know, he didn’t prove his point. It’s at least as well argued as Herbert Spencer is…[46]

            en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Darwinism

          • Guest

            and also consider what darwin actually stated himself…

            taken from the ‘eugenics’ collection from the university of missouri:

            Charles Darwin’s ‘Descent of Man':

            “With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.”

            http://mulibraries.missouri.edu/specialcollections/exhibits/eugenics/darwin.htm

          • ersatz

            * bahh..disregard this repeat ‘descent of man’ post,andrew…it was meant for bobbiethejean.

            i’d deleted it,but all disqus does is anon the username,which is awful.

          • bobbiethejean

            The formatting gremlin strikes again! :P

            Anyway, interesting points. Consider them considered.

          • echar

            I found the mention of elitism most interesting and applicable in this instance.

          • ersatz

            an excerpt from ‘the descent of man’,(copied from the ‘eugenics’ presentation from the university of missouri) —

            “With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.”

            –Charles Darwin

            [Volume 1, page 168]

            http://mulibraries.missouri.edu/specialcollections/exhibits/eugenics/darwin.htm

          • misinformation

            Darwin’s science was shrouded in his politics and religion. He was, in your description, a social darwinist.

  • ersatz

    “I think that people with mental aberrations who have family histories of inherited diseases and such, that something should be done seriously to educate them to prevent them from procreating. I think they should be gathered together in a suitable place and have it demonstrated for them what their procreation would mean for the human race.” — randi

    if that’s not a blatant eugenical ideology..then i dunno what the fuck is.

    then again,darwinism itself served as the scientific foundation,& buttress used by darwin’s half cousin galton,when first legitimizing eugenics,so it’s not surprising to hear randi making such statements really.

    what’s ironic tho, is that randi,who’d recently announced he was gay,would’ve then been considered a mental defective/mentally ill ‘unfit’ as a result,and drs would’ve recommended he be institutionalized,using the same pseudoscientific standards/parameters back during eugenics initial heyday.

  • option30

    Where does his homosexuality he kept hidden so long from same Scientific thought come into into this ? Not that Im homophobic but can that be really considered fit , after all it might help reduce population but it also produces traits which at one time was considered a Psychiatric illness and unfit to be seen.

  • echar

    Look at him silently judging you!

  • misinformation

    Message to this person that I’ve never heard of…It’s never too late to seek help for your abusive upbringing.

  • RayJ

    I definitely agree that these comments are monstrous but I am really not seeing any argument anywhere about why this is so. Personally I am not very surprised by I haven’t heard any good arguments about why, from a secular humanist perspective, you should give a damn about anybody who can’t help you.

    • terrasodium

      I’m confused , are you looking for a counter argument to Randi. or supportive ?

    • Andrew

      Then you don’t know what humanism is.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanism

      • terrasodium

        Thanks for the link, my confusion arises from RayJ’s question using the word “why” ,most conversation from the finger pointer groups of this or any of the others of the same relative materialist ideologies have mostly learned to avoid wading into the broad-answer-potential of the asking “why” , most have learned the art of misdirection by converting the “why” questions into “how” questions and reducing answers into authoritarian mental-carpentry empiricist discourse.

  • terrasodium

    Was only a matter of time before the amazing (slight of hand and master of misdirection)Randi dropped the thin veil of his agenda, next thing you know Dawkins will be barking the same tripe to his militant troop of rubber stamp reductionists.

  • BrianApocalypse

    Well that’s Stephen Hawking fucked then.

  • mannyfurious

    As usual, the mistake is in language. How are we defining “fittest?” If Randi believes it’s people “smart” enough to not get hooked on drugs, well what does it say about being “fit” when the desperate drug addict, amped up on any number of chemicals, jumps on you and bites your face off and takes off with your cash? Who’s the “fittest” then? Because in that case, survival is best guaranteed to the amped-up, idiot-sociopath and people like Randi would cease to exist.

    Let’s stop pretending words define anything beyond what we personally choose for them.

    • echar

      For me this brings up the Whitest Kids U Know skit, Shoshon the Elegant. It even has an eletist white oldman.

      Watch and enjoy
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9DajKjOr4M

      • mannyfurious

        Yeezus…. Thanks for the share!

      • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

        holy crap was the elitist white old-man actually old-man Hitler?

    • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

      What about the pack-a-day smoker who survives others in a burning building due to his ability to take the smoke inhalation in stride? Who’s Fittest Now?!

      • mannyfurious

        I don’t know if your satire is supporting my view or not, but either way that’s a very good point. It’s all about context. As someone else pointed out, the slug is not “fit” by any of our traditional definitions, but it’s managed to survive this long, and quite frankly it will probably survive as a species a lot longer than humans.

  • Rus Archer

    because all “drugs” kill

  • Ignant Tom

    Honestly all of you people are wrong, James Ignorant Randi is right. Ya know why? Because fuck all this stupid ass people filling up the world. What do you thinks going to happen we fill this world more and more and then we are one big happy planet! NO let them ruin their lives with all the drugs they could possibly want. I like how the disinfo community sees this guy as far fetched but lying on your back and masturbating while talking to aliens is totally understandable

    • Andrew

      I don’t see him as far fetched or irrational. I see him as immoral.

    • Calypso_1

      kids stuff. You should try it sitting in a chair to open interdimensional time portals.

      • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

        I would say that could be dangerous, but clearly anyone who can’t handle it isn’t the Fittest.

    • The Well Dressed Man

      Well I was gonna leave this social science thread untouched, but then I heard that there was some autoxenoeroticism going on. Am I too late for the party?

    • Adam’s Shadow

      I don’t lie down and masturbate while talking to aliens; I lie down and masturbate while talking to Zoe Saldana. Just to be clear.

  • MegGuest

    Wow – hmm – so glad to have tripped across this article and the comments! Can’t weigh in except by mostly ‘hunch’ – am an ‘informal’ and relatively new student of economic/political history, concept of ‘social Darwinism’ and how it came to be embraced, etc. – but have never had a ‘good feeling’ for James Randi’s schtick or style. And I’ve beat a drum for some time that “we all have belief systems, a tendency to self-deception and the in-built ability to ignore facts as necessary.”, (acquired via studies of Adlerian insights and built from that point on).

    As to ‘survival of fittest’, it’s occurred to me, (not an original thought), that those least served, those whose lives are most rugged not by choice, who are the least protected by conveniences and access to services, may well have the strongest immune systems, should the world reach a time when absolute physical needs cannot be met but by survival knowledge and genetic potential.

    Urban and rural poor may have greater stamina in their genes, strong shrewdness intuitions, and may better know which weeds to eat or use to treat maladies.

    If we come to that ‘test’ and I’m still around (which I doubt I’ll be) then I’d judge humanity as having come to a disappointing “civilization experiment” for sure – not because we’d lost the perspective that Randi seems to have, but because we’d spent so many thousands of years taking ourselves to the ‘reset’ button and given it a solid punch.

    Philosophers, social scientists, and even English majors, would have to crawl through all those re-emerging questions all over again. What an exhausting prospect!

  • marvin nubwaxer

    i see the same argument that right wing extremists use in their derision of the poor if they ever break for a short while from their willful indifference.

  • Uncle Washy

    The problem here is that—like many other, controversial subjects—the solution is not binary.

    There is a reasonable middle ground to be found between forced eugenics and requirements for “This beverage is hot” on every commercial coffee cup. Callous or not, there is a line out there somewhere.

  • Andrew

    It’s a good day to be agnostic.

  • Microhero

    I think It’s a mistake to reduce Darwinism to the “survival of the fittest” and a bigger mistake to believe that we experience anything other than what Darwin described (no sense on calling it social as it is intrinsic to any living thing and any phenomena therein) at any given time.
    If you only take a different perspective on what survival is.

  • Noah_Nine

    Randi is a grumpy Santa….

  • danno

    Social Darwinism is incompatible with the Social Contract. If we still lived in a state of nature, like Hobbes/Locke described, a darwinian course of action (or inaction) would be rational and appropriate.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Poor James…I empathize with his bitterness. He’s devoted a lifetime to trying to debunk hucksters and scam artists by revealing their fakery to people…only to endure decades of ridicule and rejection by the people he tried to save from being robbed.

    Some people WANT to be robbed…and don’t see it as robbery…as long as it gave them something to cling to in desperation. To an empiricist or rationalist…this is anathema…the worst possible display of utter stupidity that can be imagined. Mr. Randi has only stated aloud what so many have quietly thought…”what if we just took away the warning labels and just let the stupid ones remove themselves from the equation?”

    As much as I disagree with his extreme sentiments…I do understand how someone could get frustrated enough to form them. Just watch the big tears rolling down the faces of friends at a funeral for a kid trying to make a “jackass” style video that wound up ending in tragedy. The expressions of surprise that someone who did something suicidal in its stupidity…somehow ‘inexplicably’ died as a result of their choices. When you see so many people fail to make a mental connection between stupidity and the consequences for same…bitterness swiftly follows. A person begins to realize that the whole of their life they will to some degree be carrying these mental deadbeats along through life…often paying for their mistakes…or cleaning up their messes. You realize that many of the laws that bedevil you…are only in existence because there is someone so dense and lacking in foresight that laws had to be carefully shaped and applied to all, just to keep those persons from harming themselves. Not a recipe for a rosy outlook.

  • Guest

    It obviously includes him. as a homosexual, Nature obviously pre-determined that his DNA was unworthy of reproduction and programmed him to not engage in procreative behavior. Makes sense to me.

  • Harold Annen

    Randi does not appear to any more rational or skeptical that the person who believes in . If Randi — and his admirers — didn’t hold him up as a master skeptic and defender of science, his espousal of Social Darwinist and Eugenicist beliefs could be forgiven as the result of a bad attack of gas or dementia or spending too much time around Rand-ites. But, that is not the case. Hence the pillory.

  • echar

    I thought “you people” were supposed to be rational, and to adapt when confronted with proof? He degraded and derided himself. And yeah exactly, we all trip on acid, masturbate to UFOs/paranormal/parapsychological shit, refuse to take meds, and make wild claims about weed all so we can take shit from some narrow minded blowhard who can’t see beyond his nose (pssst that’s you) on the internet .

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    you “rationalists” really defend anyone waving your flag don’t you?

  • Calypso_1

    I get my meds from UFO’s.

  • The Well Dressed Man
  • echar

    Dude, you’ve been holding out. Give us some.

  • Calypso_1

    First, you must be probed.

  • echar

    lol

  • echar

    I’ll bring the N2O… whose got the ballons?

  • The Well Dressed Man

    I’m partial to a portable tank and mask kit. Leaves both hands free for the scissors, textiles, and lipstick.
    Edit: If balloons are your thing, though, that’s totally cool

  • echar

    We can do both!

  • echar

    Sin here, short for Sindy, is the appointed grand maester of the annointed wholy N2O vestibule system.

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-4aJofpA4vOo/Tc7Jq2ZVfZI/AAAAAAAAB1I/lHn32AtAGcs/s1600/krystle-in-gas-mask.jpg

  • Calypso_1

    Party – Social Darwinism style

  • The Well Dressed Man

    The society that autoxenoeroticises in sensory deprivation together grows fittest together!

  • Andrew

    Fit for what?

  • Calypso_1

    Up trending carbon emissions.

  • Calypso_1

    Corrugated pipe porn……….{{{trembles w/ delight}}}

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    you see, I put “rationalists” in quotes to emphasize that you are only that in name. I don’t think i have the time or energy to tell you why what you’re saying is irrational though.

  • echar

    Any time… we party hard.

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    typical strategy:
    Step 1) Argue until your opponent realizes you aren’t worth arguing with, and walks away.
    Step 2) Claim Victory

    Congratulations, you win. However the rational realization you should have here is that it’s as hallow a victory as shooting a sleeping person and claiming you won a fight.

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