Puck's Criticism of Richard Weikart's Book on Racism

Easy enough to do it manually:

  1. Copy.
  2. Paste.
  3. Put the quote markers around the pasted copy (bracket, “quote”, close bracket before, bracket, “/quote”, close bracket after. Like this:

Thanks for trying to help. I went into Edit Post, and got rid of a lot of the junky formatting stuff, and then put the bracketed commands around the actual quotation, but as you can see, it does not have the effect of putting that nice shading around the quoted matter, but simply adds the bracketed commands. Nonetheless, the whole thing looks much clearer now, with all the formatting clutter wiped away, and the quote commands indicate clearly when the quoted part begins and ends. Next time I will try your suggestion from scratch, before the new topic even goes up, and see if that makes a difference.

You have to put the commands on a different line from the quoted bit. Don’t ask why. Bracket-quote, new line, quoted bit, new line, bracket-quote.

You appear to have missed, at a minimum, some further points (c) and (d) that would provide a more complete picture of what Weikart does that is disgusting.

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Yes, I think this passage from the description of Weikart’s first book on the subject, From Darwin to Hitler helps flesh out some of what’s missing from a complete summary of Weikart’s themes:

Darwinism played a key role in the rise not only of eugenics, but also euthanasia, infanticide, abortion and racial extermination. This was especially important in Germany, since Hitler built his view of ethics on Darwinian principles, not on nihilism.[1]

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Or easier yet (at least within a forum running the ‘Discourse’ software), do what I just did:

  1. Select the text you want to quote.

  2. Press the “"Quote” button that appears on the screen, or press “q” on your keyboard.

This will create a new reply window with the quote already there, with (nearly) all formatting
and source information
. If you want to use this for the OP in a new thread, you just cut&paste this pre-formatted quote into the new thread window. The result will be something like this:

(The only change it makes is that the quoted-link does not provide the preview that the posted-link did.)

I can’t speak for Puck, but this sort of criticism is pretty standard for the DI; they want to blame Charles Darwin for halitosis, hangnails, Hitler, the Holocaust, and everything in between. None of their previous arguments have been honest, and it doesn’t seem likely they will change.

If it matters, my primary objection to “Blaming Hitler of Darwin” is that causally ignores a thousand years of European antisemitism, sweeping it under the rug like it never happened. THAT is racism. I don’t know Weikart from a MarioKart, but given that fact that the DI is publishing/promoting his book, and the DI is very fond of this racist “Darwin therefore Hitler” argument, I see no reason to expect better from him. (If Weikart wanted to do better, he could have published anywhere else.)

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Ummm, Dan… Weikart is an academically trained European historian, who knows very well about centuries of anti-Semitism. He would never argue something so foolish as that Darwin, rather than centuries of anti-Semitism, was the main cause of the Holocaust. But Darwin’s ideas do provide grist for certain lines of argument justifying the elimination of “inferior” races (even if Darwin himself never drew such conclusions), and it’s a perfectly legitimate scholarly activity to trace the lines of influence of certain terms, lines of argument, as they spread out into various societies and influence social and political developments.

Note that he has published a number of academic books with publishers other than Discovery, including Regnery and Macmillan, to name just two.

It’s interesting that people here seem to dislike Weikart based on his conclusions, but no one here wants to discuss the evidence and arguments he presents for his conclusions. Normally a scholar is judged on whether or not his evidence and argument are good, not on whether or not one happens to like his conclusions.

I haven’t read Weikart’s books and pass no judgment on his arguments or conclusions, but my first instinct would be to give him a chance to prove his various theses, not to dismiss them out of hand. I wonder which of the people here who have responded so sharply to the very mention of Weikart’s name have read even one of his books all the way through.

Too bad this forum doesn’t give out medals for alliteration.

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You don’t know this. You haven’t read his book.

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I wasn’t making a claim about any specific book. I was making a claim about his general intelligence and education, based on my personal conversations with him, and many conversations of him with others that I’ve been present for. I know he’s too educated and too intelligent to deny the reality of anti-Semitism in European history, just as I know that John Harshman is too educated and too intelligent ever to write that a whale is a kind of fish because it lives in the water.

That is not so clear. Weikart is a Fellow of the Discovery Institute (which I had forgotten), and at least one of his books was funded by the DI. Weikart may well be the original source of the DI’s "Blaming Hitler of Darwin” claims.

This Biography is informative.

Because Weikart’s work is controversial and criticized by his fellow academics, I feel that I’m not too far off the mark in suspecting Weikart’s arguments and motives.

<insert that great quote when I can find it>

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You’re implying that his scholarship in European history is no good because he is a Fellow of the DI and because one (a small minority) of his books was funded by the DI?

You realize that this is a form of ad hominem argumentation?

Regnery isn’t an academic press; it’s a right-wing press. Odd that you can’t tell the difference. Also, did you read the Wiki that @Dan_Eastwood posted above? It seems quite damning.

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That’s an idiotically partisan remark; as if something has to be left-wing to be academic! It reveals a deep political-cultural bias on your part. But then, that bias is widely shared among the regular commenters here, so it’s no surprise. As a point of fact, I own and have read a number of good academic works by Regnery, including useful editions of some of the classics of political philosophy.

And people who really want to learn about a subject don’t learn it from Wikis; they learn it from reading books. And people who are properly educated don’t condemn books and authors they haven’t read – which happens all too often around here. And they don’t condemn books and authors by association – another bad habit found very frequently among science-trained atheists who post on internet blog sites.

This thread is going nowhere; there’s nothing here but expressions of hatred for Weikart for being associated with Discovery. I’m not sticking around to read several people, none of whom (except perhaps for Puck) have ever read a book by Weikart all the way through, savaging Weikart even though their knowledge of his arguments and date is entirely from hearsay or at most from very brief snippets. A discussion of a book among people ignorant of the book’s contents is a complete waste of time.

It was From Darwin to Hitler – Weikart’s first book on his Darwin-Hitler thesis, so thus arguably the most significant, that received DI funding.

As you note, “Weikart’s work is controversial and criticized by his fellow academics”, and this criticism was particularly prominent for this first book. The form of the criticism is familiar:

Numerous reviews have accused Weikart of selectively viewing his rich primary material, ignoring political, social, psychological, and economic factors that may have played key roles in the post-Darwinian development of Nazi eugenics and racism.[1]

Such “selective” or cherry-picking usage has been a criticism of creationists from George McCready Price through to Stephen Meyer. It would not seem too far to say that (on the Darwin-Hitler issue at least) Weikart is a bad historian because he is, methodologically, a Creationist Historian.

This selectivity is quite startling on some points. FDtH, unlike Hitler in Mein Kampf (who praises him in the same breath as fellow antisemite Richard Wagner), makes no mention of Martin Luther. This tends to support your contention of “causally ignor[ing] a thousand years of European antisemitism”.

Weikart appears to take any commonality in ideas or language of any thinker between the publication of Origin of Species and the rise on Nazism, as linking the two, even if the thinkers views are largely antithetical to Darwin’s and/or expressing views that predate Darwin.

I think the following essay of Weikart’s may prove informative in understanding his worldview:

Weikart clearly wishes to blame these three for the ills of the modern world, and this presupposition predates his deeper immersion in academic historical scholarship:

As a Christian undergraduate in the 1970s, I was drawn to the study of modern European intellectual history in part by the realization that much modern thought had debased humanity, as Frankl suggested. My concerns were originally stimulated by reading C. S. Lewis, especially The Abolition of Man , and several of Francis Schaeffer’s works, but they were reinforced by courses I took in intellectual history and the history of philosophy. In my own private studies, I was dismayed by the vision of humanity sketched out in B. F. Skinner’s Beyond Freedom and Dignity , which it seemed to me would lead to dystopias, such as the fictional ones in 1984 and Brave New World or the real one described by Alexander Solzhenitsyn in his novels and in The Gulag Archipelago .

Weikart is not the first creationist that I’ve seen blame such figures (and I’ve sometimes seen Freud added to the mix) for all modern ills. This runs into two problems. First, however towering these figures may seem, especially in retrospect, there were a myriad of other, potentially influential, views that owe no allegiance to them. Secondly, it requires ignoring major conflicts between their views and those they are supposed to have influenced.

In the case of Darwin’s supposed influence of Nazism, you need to confront the fact that Nazi views on ‘racial purity’ are antithetical to Darwinian concepts like common descent and the value of genetic diversity. You also need to confront the fact that the Nazis rejected a materialistic worldview, and thus were hostile to such materialistic explanations as Darwinian evolution.

Yes, both Nazism and Darwinian evolution contain within them some notion about “fitness” or similar. However the Darwinian notion is heavily contingent (to particular environment), pragmatic (whatever works, no matter how ugly) and empirical. The Nazi notion was romantic and a priori – a blonde blue-eyed Aryan is the answer to every question.

I cannot help but think that Weikart has set out to find any evidence, not matter how spurious, to support his presupposition, and in doing so has debased historical scholarship in the service of Christian apologetics.

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No, they do not, any more than Newton’s ideas provide grist for certain lines of argument justifying dropping people off cliffs.

Feel free to actually provide such a line of argument if you wish to continue to claim otherwise.

Certain racists and anti-semites seize on Darwin’s work to attempt to justify their pre-existing ideas, just as they seize on the bible and the book or Mormon and IQ test results and unemployment figures and police statistics and Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Nobel prizes and Lord of the rings and anything else they encounter. That doesn’t mean their arguments actually justify anything.

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No, that reveals a serious lapse in your logic, a false dichotomy. Actual academic presses are neither right nor left.

Note that you haven’t read the book in question but still manage to have a favorable view and rush to defend the author. What in that Wiki do you think is false?

There’s a lot more in the Wiki, but of course you won’t read even that. And so you flounce.

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You were making a claim regarding something he “would never argue.” That would include in the book under discussion. In order to know your claim was true, you would have to have read the book, or at least know in some detail what he says in it.

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I did not defend the author, not in the sense of defending his particular arguments or conclusions. I said he was a trained, published European historian (which he is, unlike any of his critics posting here, I might add), and I criticized those who held an opinion about the quality of argument of the author based on his associations or based on negatives reviews or based on summary articles like Wikis. If you haven’t read an author, you should just shut up and offer no opinion at all. But many people here can’t manage that kind of intellectual caution. They feel impelled to offer opinions.

You’re the one who implied the false dichotomy: right-wing vs. academic. Don’t try to twist out of it to put me in the wrong. A work can be very right-wing and very academic at the same time. A press which published only right-wing works could still, in principle, publish also only good academic works. Similarly, a press which published only left-wing works could still, in principle, publish also only good academic works. You worded things in a deliberately polemical way. If you had integrity, you’d confess to this, and move on.

By the way, is Regnery’s edition of Marx’s Das Kapital a “right-wing” work?

There might be more in the Wiki. When I said “nothing here” I was at that point referring to the statements offered here by the commenters based on their own reasoning from Weikart’s biography, Discovery connections, etc. Nothing there but ad hominem argumentation, speculation, etc. In other words, bog-standard stuff from science-trained internet commenters on sites focused on origins issues.

By that reasoning, you’d have to have read everything ever written by the post-Ph.D. John Harshman before you could safely say that the post-Ph.D. Harshman would never have argued that whales were a type of fish because they lived in the water. Or that you’d have to have read everything ever written by Albert Einstein before you could safely say that he would never have written that mathematics had no place in natural science. Silly reasoning.