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James Brody April 24th, 2008 01:03 PM

Intelligent Design & Secular Education
I am agnostic, for reasons in half of my genes. I also have a strong sense of justice and fairness and that a war is going on:

1) There are reasons to treat ID advocates as genetically different from NeoDs, differences that can be presumed outcomes of genomic imprinting during fetal development (Burt & Trivers, 2006). Thus, the long separations between Apollonians and Dionysiacs that live today in the war between progressives and conservatives (Hayek, 1994; Pinker 2002; Sowell, 2002), between Neodarwinians and Intelligent Design, between field-dependent and field independent thinkers such as westerners and Orientals (Nisbett, 2003), between liberals and conservatives (Alford, Funk, & Hibbing, 2005) and even between the average female and the average male (Goldberg, 2001).

2) The right to a free public education includes the modifier, "appropriate" which means matching the methods and content of education to the nature of each child. Many parents now pay school taxes but educate their children at home for reasons of safety and moral development. Such students also do better than average in standard tests and show no social impairments for having missed lunchrooms and school yards. AND their mothers do not need masters degrees, continuing education credits, or annual pay increases!

3) Denial of a religious component to that education - because of the mismatch between educational content and the nature of the child - is a violation of due process and the Right to Education Act, PL94-142.

4) Requiring parents of religiously-awake students to pay extra tuition to meet their children's biological needs is a violation of the equal protection clause of the U. S. Constitution. (No damned wonder they're pissed! Their sense of ultimate causes is just as valid to them as the sense of ultimates endorsed by secularists. This is a less a matter of absolute truths and more one of brown eyes being forced to act as if they are blue.)

5) Failing to provide religious instruction raises the probability of the child's alienation from his secular instructors and peers and heightens the chances that he/she will discover less mature forms of religious practice. Expect Wiccanism to do well with some of these kids! (See Sloan Wilson, 2007.)

6) The separation between the state and religion was intended to prevent state-sponsorship of any particular religion. (Again, a reflection of genetic biases: the US Supreme Court has issued 25 opinions on the separation of church and state since 1878. ( Also note that Islam successfully gains schedule adjustments and physical resources that would be denied to Christians and Jews.)

Bottom Lines:

1) Practice the ancient Jewish art of self-defense as endorsed by NYC liberal attorney, Ron Kuby: Eisoo!

2) The Scopes Trial was a contest between genes and religion had a terrible set: Willam Jennings Bryan was dead two weeks after that debate. (It was also a lynching just as if religion were a black man. See Marion Rodgers, 2005) That contest continues and the self-selection that leads to academic careers also leads to choices in the popular media. The high-verbals, for reasons of genomic imprinting in context with stable environments, practice routines, talk more, argue better, are more context-oriented, and more apt to experience anxiety and depression. They make a culture that will collapse because it tries to suppress its most devoted and creative individuals.

Like most suicidal people, they are also boring...


Alford J, Funk C, & Hibbing JR (2005) Are political orientations genetically transmitted? American Political Science Review. 99(2): 153-167.

Brody J (2008) rebellion physics to personal will. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse.

Burt, Austin, & Trivers, Robert (2006) Genes in Conflict: The Biology of Selfish Genetic Elements. Cambridge, MA: Belknap-Harvard. (Esp. Chapter 4: Genomic imprinting is most frequent in species in which females have offspring by several different males. Humans are one of them. Imprinting allows females to limit the costs imposed on her by one male while she conserves her assets for the offspring of her next partner. Males, on the other hand, try to get the most they can for their offspring from every mating. That is, silencing dad's gene leads to smaller offspring, silencing mother's leads to larger. Mothers, thus, resist fetal demands on their blood sugar and blood pressure and limit placental growth; fathers take advantage of those same resources.. At the same time, maternal imprinted genes possibly encourage her offspring's ability to find and maintain social connections when she contributes to its left forebrain and striatum, retina, nose, and parts of its vomeronasal organ!)

Goldberg, E. (2001) The Executive Brain: Frontal Lobes and the Civilized Mind. NY: Oxford University Press. Elkohonon Goldberg (2001), a gifted refusnik, neuroscientist, and host for a competing Behavior OnLine forum, points out "Yakolevian torque" that is most pronounced in adult male brains and less evident in the brains of children and females of any age (and schizophrenics). That is, the left temporal area is swollen in adults of either sex but male adults have a larger right frontal area that actually overlaps its partner on the left side. (Such differences have been seen in other primates in in endocasts of the fossilized skulls of human ancestors.) Goldberg cites data from brain scans of normal individuals solving problems as well as the common effects of head injury. The right frontal area is particularly active in novel situations but, with practice, dampens itself while the left side increases its activity. Further, new words and phrases, math challenges, and musical compositions arouse the right side; familiar items, regardless of their nature, appear to activate the left. As for head injury: children are thought to be more affected by damage to their right side, adults by damage to their left. Goldberg's suggestion is that children, depending on the right, are at the stage of acquiring new sequences of behavior. Adults have mastered most basic skills but injury to their left side disrupts them. In other words, your right side can be considered as a pattern-maker and your left side as your administrative assistant, your patter-maker (Brody, 2008). It can be argued that Western society, indeed most human societies, order and reward compliance with verbal and nonverbal traditions. The left hemisphere would be expected to have selective advantages under these conditions. The contributions of the right hemisphere may have been most honored when active in lovers, rulers, generals, and priests and when it discovered ways to have its fun while seeming to comply with progressive, hierarchic cultures.

Nisbett R (2003) The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently and Why. NY: Free Press.

Pinker, S. (2002) The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. NY: Viking. (See chapter on Politics.)

Rodgers, Marion Elizabeth (2005) Mencken: The American Iconoclast. NY: Oxford University Press. (Gripping! Mencken gave us an American language, vigorously argued against Prohibition and may have been served the first beer in Baltimore after it was repealed. Risked lynching by rednecks on Maryland's easter shore when he protested their lynching of blacks. FDR helped end prohibition against beer but - despite Mencken's best efforts to provoke federal assistance - this orator had no opinions about the lynching of blacks in Maryland. Legislation to make lynching a federal crime died in the US senate. HLM left us a remarkable heritage of honesty and skepticism and new writers. Boston couldn't ban him. Long book, short chapters, sturdy scholarship dressed in a lively style.)

Wilson DS (2007) Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin's Theory Can Change the Way We Think About our Lives. NY: Dell.

TomJrzk April 25th, 2008 03:07 PM

Re: Intelligent Design & Secular Education
I'm less agnostic than I was. Having to lean to Christianity here in the states because of its pervasiveness, I finally found a thought experiment that proved to me that Christianity is false: just ask God where the pre-Columbian Indians hang their hats. If some are in Heaven, how, if they couldn't have known JC; if in Hell, what kind of fair god would do something like that? Not one that I would even want to be associated with.

As far as religious education in public schools, it seems like they have all day on Sunday to brainwash their kids. If they don't want them to also learn the prevailing science, then paying for that privilege is something I'm comfortable with.

James Brody April 25th, 2008 09:40 PM

Re: Intelligent Design & Secular Education

Good to hear from you but there's a point that many folks miss: religiosity - speaking or hearing from supernatural forces - has a significant genetic loading.

Kids with this loading will seek their own magic forces and I much prefer they are enrolled in tamer versions offered by Christianity, Judaism, or related groups.

Failure to address these needs can be seen as a form of negative eugenics by means of ridicule, shame, and exclusion as friendships are curtailed and an outgroup forms, catalyzed in part by the teacher's own attitudes. And to boot, we charge the parents of those kids extra money if their child is sensitive to such beliefs.

Again, these are matters of the child's individual propensities and not those of what the parents would like to see!


TomJrzk April 25th, 2008 10:29 PM

Re: Intelligent Design & Secular Education
Good points.

My thought is that the propensity is an aversion to unanswerable curiosity, so it's good to hand the unknown over to a 'known', and for herding, so it's good to hang with a social group. I have no qualms with sheep or people putting their faith in the unknown, the problem is when things like evolution are known and irrational faith is counter-productive or even hostile to the facts.

Plus, which faiths and how many would you propose to add to the curriculum? Where does one draw the line? And even if you don't stop at one, the religious will be at the head of the pack to exclude all others. I would sit back and observe the irrational hand-wringing.

I've been hanging around keeping up with your interesting posts...

Keep up the good work, JB.

James Brody April 26th, 2008 04:22 PM

Tom re NeoD & Eugenics

1) Thanks for your encouragement!

2) I need comments because I am otherwise inclined to think too much.

3) I have the same weakness as most talkers, that of defining a territory and recruiting the like-minded. Starlings do it, chimps do it, so do most talk-show hosts, and so do a lot of educators.

4) Galton organized the genetics and behavior stuff although it may be the Greeks did it first and some ADHD types lost the notes!

5) Steve Pinker (2002, The Blank Slate) in his chapter on politics, credits Roger Masters, 1982, 1989 (The Nature of Politics. New Haven, CT. Yale.) and observes:

284. "In the sociological tradition, a society is a cohesive organic entity and its individual citizens are mere parts. People are thought to be social by their very nature and to function as constituents of a larger superorganism. This is the tradition of Plato, Hegel, Marx, Durkheim, Weber, Kroeber, the sociologist (285) Talcott Parsons, the anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss, and postmodernism in the humanities and social sciences.

"In the economic or social contract tradition, society is an arrangement negotiated by rational, self-interested individuals Society emerges when people agree to sacrifice some of their autonomy in exchange for security from the depredations of others wielding their autonomy. It is the tradition of Thrasymachus in Plato's Republic, and of Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Smith and Bentham. In the twentieth century it became the basis for the rational actor or "economic man" models in economics and political science, and for cost-benefit analyses of public choices.

"The modern theory of evolution falls smack into the social cocntract tradition. It maintains that complex adaptations, including behavioral strategies, evolved to benefit the individual (indeed, the genes for those traits within an individual), not the community, species, or ecosystem. Social organization evolves when the long-term benefits to the individual outweigh the immediate costs."

"The right-let axis aligns an astonishing collection of beliefs that at first glance seem to have nothing in common. If you learn that someone is in favor of a strong military, for example, it is a good bet that the person is also in favor of judicial restraint rather than judicial activism. If someone believes in the importance of religion, chances are she will be tough on crime and in favor of lower taxes. Proponents of a laissez-faire economic policy tend to value patriotism and the family, and they are more likely to be old than young, pragmatic rather than idealist, censorious than permissive, meritocratic than egalitarian, gradualist than revolutionary, and in a business rather than a university or government agency. The opposing positions cluster just as reliably: if someone is sympathetic to rehabilitating offenders, or to affirmative action, or to generous welfare programs, or to a tolerance of homosexuality, chances are good that he will also be a pacifist, an environmentalist, an activist, an egalitarian, a secularist, and a professor or student."

6) Twenty-five years after Rushton, Littlefield, & Lumsden (1986) reported substantial heritability and unique environments for altruism, empathy, nurturance, aggressiveness, and assertiveness (questionnaires from 573 adult twin pairs) and that common (imposed) environments contributed on the order of 3%, we struggle with these ideas. For example, Alford J, Funk C, & Hibbing JR (2005, Are political orientations genetically transmitted? American Political Science Review. 99(2): 153–167) remark:
"...predictably dissimilar correlations of social and political attitudes among people with greater and lesser shared genotypes suggest that behaviors are often shaped by forces of which the actors themselves are not consciously aware, a point that is made with some force by Bargh and Chartrand (1999), Marcus (2002), Marcus, Neuman, and MacKuen 2000), McDermott (2004), andWegner (2002).

"Fathers do not have more influence over sons, and mothers do not have more influence over daughters; fathers are not generally more influential; the distribution of power within the family is irrelevant to parent–child correlations (i.e., neither highly autocratic, highly permissive, nor middling arrangements affect the extent to which attitudes are correlated); the degree to which children and parents feel close to each other does not matter; the frequency with which the family discusses politics does not much affect correspondence between offspring and parent views (though, as we would have predicted since it is based on active socialization, party identification is more sensitive to family arrangements); and the extent to which politics is important to the parents is also irrelevant.

"Common political usage would call the first phenotype conservative and the second liberal, but we seek phrases that are less connected to political ideologies and that indicate that these two phenotypes run to the very orientation of people to society, leadership, knowledge, group life, and the human condition. Thus, we label the first "absolutist" and the second "contextualist."This fundamental dimension offers a credible precursor to basic cleavages manifested in a broad range of human social activity: politics (conservatives/liberals), religion (fundamentalists/secular humanists), law (procedural/substantive due process), education (phonics/whole language), art (traditional form-based realism/modern free-form impressionism), sports (football/frisbee), medicine (traditional AMA/wholistic), morality (enduring standards/situational ethics), and scientific inquiry (formal/empirical). In our view, all of these vexing perennial dichotomies are related cultural expressions of a deep-seated genetic divide in human behavioral predispositions and capabilities."

7) Irony: Lindon Eaves is one of the modern pioneers in behavior genetics research, collaborated often with Hans Eysenck, and faced squarely the extent to which the environments that really matter are those that we make through unspoken genetic preferences.

Eaves, however, is also, according to Internet sources, "Distinguished Professor of Human Genetics and Psychiatry at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in Richmond and directs the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics. His research encompasses statistical genetics and the genetics of human behavior, with a special emphasis on genetic studies of behavioral development, and the modeling of biological and cultural inheritance. He is past-president of the Behavior Genetics Association and has received numerous honors and awards for his contributions to behavioral genetics and twin research. He has authored more than 200 papers and a book, Genes, Culture and Personality: An Empirical Approach. He is an Episcopal Priest in the Diocese of Virginia and has lectured widely on the relationship between science and theology."

Eaves is a very smart guy and a very energetic one but one with a gene that he shares with roughly 40% of other scientists. Twenty-five years later, we still have to come to terms with the idea that the lectures that matter are those that we choose to take with us; they otherwise, are a means to impose uniformity as mothers, teachers, and preachers lecture, fine, criticize, and imprison mostly young males.

The lectures from agnostics and political "liberals" are intended to convert, to suppress, and to intimidate people with a contrary set of beliefs. Given the genetic contributions to political and social beliefs, this war must be seen as a [i]eugenic]/I] one in which the "winners" from the universities, New England, and the west coast suppress the formerly dominant group.

Another irony and a symptom of how deeply these competing outlooks exist in our society. Tom Jefferson is cited by Wiki as an advocate for separation of church and state. His memorial in Washington has a different idea: "I have sworn on the altar of God eternal hostility against any form of tyranny on the human mind."

Or so I think it goes...I need to pay another visit. Meanwhile, I suspect that Ben Stein is an opportunist and will probably sell whatever people buy. I don't think that was true of Jefferson.


TomJrzk April 26th, 2008 06:25 PM

Re: Tom re NeoD & Eugenics
Very good. I accept and have espoused almost all of that. I need look no further than my own family. What little disagreement we have are on these two phrases:

Originally Posted by James Brody
The lectures from agnostics and political "liberals" are intended to convert, to suppress, and to intimidate people with a contrary set of beliefs


has a different idea: "I have sworn on the altar of God eternal hostility against any form of tyranny on the human mind."

If someone proves that an intelligent designer set all the various physical constants or turned water into wine, than I'm all for adding that to the public school curriculum. We've proven many facets of evolution; those belong in school. People who try to force their irrational faith on others ought to be converted.

Decades ago, I had an idea to organize community competitions. One block of houses would challenge another block of houses to compete in everything: tennis, scrabble, running, apple pie baking... The key was to create comfortable-sized clans that would bring neighbors together to a common purpose. The common purpose is the key to our instinctive willingness to like and help each other, when the other is on 'our' side. It can be any common purpose, boot camp is designed with this in mind. Religion is just the snake-oil salesman's means to take advantage of this human instinct and get others to pay for his gold chalises.

I started to change that to "kind human instinct", but then the other side of the coin popped into my head, which is an excellent testament to the evil of religion. Yes, we are kind to those on 'our' side, but we are also instinctively and decidedly UNkind to those not on our side.

"any form or tyranny" would include making my children pray in school or putting "in god we trust" on currency. Tom, my favorite president by far ;) would NOT approve!!!! At least you can understand that believing in god because science was SO ignorant is not an idea different from requiring that nobody be forced to believe in his god? That you introduced his statement as 'a different idea' says a lot. Please say it isn't so.

James Brody April 27th, 2008 09:37 AM

Re: Intelligent Design & Secular Education
You make my point about eugenics...

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