Tag Archives: Dow Jones

When Economists Twist Biology

A site called KansasCity.com posts a column called Midwest Voices, and a professor emeritus of economics from the University of Notre Dame –Larry Marsh–has written an absurd piece insisting that if one accepts evolution then it follows that one must accept free-market economics, and therefore reject socialism; forget that the former is a science and the latter is a social policy.

Marsh begins with:

Is life fundamentally bottom-up and randomly designed or top-down and intentionally designed? Are you a socialist-creationist or a free-market evolutionist? If you reject this dichotomy and instead view yourself as a socialist-evolutionist, how can you justify arguing for the power of self-organization and unintentional, benevolent design in biology and against it in economics?

The gist of his column is that he thinks living under the umbrella of a free-market economy naturally benefits all individuals, which he sees as analogous to individual ants benefiting from being part of a colony –which is actually organized from bottom up rather from the top down (i.e. government). As Marsh says, “The queen ant is not a commander ant. The colony just consists of individual ants instinctively following their nature”.

I suppose he’s saying it’s our nature to be capitalistic. And by following our nature we all profit. Oh, but what a magnificently lame philosophy it is. Invoking Adam Smith and Charles Darwin, as Marsh does, and setting them up against socialist Karl Marx and creationist William Paley may sound good on paper, while sitting in the comfy chair inside a professor’s air-conditioned office, but reality isn’t so pretty.

Hasn’t Marsh heard the estimate that 99.9% of all species that have ever lived have gone extinct? Or that historically the average rates of extinction and speciation have been about equal? (Extinction: Bad Genes or Bad Luck by David Raup) Or that most offspring in the wild don’t make it to adulthood? The female Clownfish (anemone fish), for example, lays up to 1000 eggs in a clutch, but predation, genetic misfortune, and physical mishaps will likely destroy all but a tiny fraction. Mother Nature may recycle, but she’s a wasteful and inefficient bitch.

Should our economy be run in this fashion? Do we want General Motors using this model? Say for every one car it produces 100 will be junked. Or for every profitable loan Bank Of America makes, 100 will be bad debt. How long would the economy last?

That ‘radical’ Richard Dawkins has often said evolution is not a template for society; he likes to quote Tennyson –“nature, red in tooth and claw”. But through Marsh’s naive non-biologist eyes, evolution is not just an explanation for the origin and diversification of new species, it’s an instructive manual on how to live one’s life.

Marsh sounds like he accepts evolution, and as an academic he may well think he’s performing a double-whammy service by conflating it with capitalism, but he’s only cherry picking the parts of evolution that fit in with his economic views.

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Sarah Palin, The Anti-Intellectual

Like George W. Bush, Sarah Palin (I keep typing “plain” mistakenly) is an anti-intellectual. She comes across as completely incurious about economic issues and about international politics in general. She obtained her first passport only last year. And she spouts mindless uninformed opinions on important scientific issues; for example, mocking the use of fruit flies in genetic research. A periodic reading of the science section of a news magazine would have educated her on the basics. Slogans like “Joe Sixpack”, “Hockey Mom”, and “Joe The Plumber” aren’t a substantive political platform, they’re advertizing jargon. You Betcha!

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Filed under Culture Warfare, Politics

Sarah Palin, Not A News Hound

Is it me or does Sarah Palin sound here like she could be George Bush’s equally dumb sister? I don’t know how to interpret her answer to Katie Couric’s question. Does Palin not read newspapers or news magazines, or does she not remember any of the titles of her favorite periodicals? Either way, it doesn’t look good on  camera. Her style is more appropriate for an unctuous saleswoman than a Washington politician. I can picture her now trying to sell me an insurance policy or a time-share in Miami Beach.

If I didn’t already know her belief in creationism, then I would have guessed. It follows that Curious George, the monkey, must be a Democrat, or at least a libertarian, because ultra-conservative, Christian Republicans don’t seem to give a rat’s ass about the wide world outside their bubbles of ignorance.

P.S. Check out how defensive McCain gets when Palin’s qualifications are questioned.

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Top 15 Christian Conservative Ice Cream Flavors

15. Post The Ten Command-Mint (Available everywhere)
14. Baby Killer Coconut Scream (May not be legal in some states)
13. Blasted Bambi & Bible Thumper Wild Berry (Not for children under 7 years of age)
12. Try The Peppermint Stick From My Cold Dead Hands (Requires a 3 hour waiting period)
11. Adam & Steve In Hell-Fire Fudge (Packed hard in a cone)
10. King Kong Evolution Is Dead Banana Mocha (Artificial flavoring)
9. The North Of The Border, The Whiter The Chocolate (Made In Mexico)
8. Chewy Jewie Bubblegum (A traditional Germany Recipe)
7. Charles Darwin’s Soulless Ice Cream Coffin Sandwich (Part of our school lunch program)

6. Burnt Atheist Brownie (All natural ingredients)
5. Jerry Falwell’s Judgment Day Peanut Butter Surprise (High in cholesterol)
4. Liquorish Whip The Liberal (Seasonal flavor)
3. Sarah Palin’s Half-Baked Alaskan Nut Bar (Aged for 6000 years)
2. The Evangelical Express-O (Our most popular flavor)
1. Marshmallow McCain Wafflecone (Changes flavor with temperature)

P.S. Check out Fox News’ reporting on Barak Obama. it parallels their analysis of John Kerry in the 2004 election. Disgusting.

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