Sunday, July 28, 2002

Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France again, Jeff Cooper adequately trashes suggestions that he is not an athlete. Armstrong's athletic ability impresses me more than that of a champion marathon runner.

Here is a possible signal from extraterrestial intelligence. What if we decoded it, and it was a DNA sequence? Sooner or later, someone would make it, just as someone recently artificially made a polio virus from just DNA data. A really clever E.T. might send us a virus that would wipe out life as we know it, and replace us with a race of E.T. clones. As long as the alien DNA sequence were available, and it would fit on one CD-ROM, some curious scientist would eventually create it and destroy us all. The only safe thing to do is to shut down SETI immediately!

Science historian and evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould's last book gets trashed here as verbal flatulence. I agree. Gould was the leading expositor of evolution, and probably the most famous scientist in the world until he died recently. But his confused and inaccurate evolution arguments are so poor that they almost make me doubt evolution.

I disagree with his claim that Gould never ran from a scholarly fight. Gould's biggest selling book was The Mismeasure of Man, a polemic against IQ testing. The book was severely criticized in the scientific press as being wrong about most of his central assertions (but greatly praised in the nonscientific press). Gould never answered the criticisms, and even came out with an expanded edition years later with all the same mistakes reprinted.

Gould's IQ opinions were praised by leftists and non-scientists because he attacked the idea that IQ is measurable, that IQ scores can be ordered, and that IQ is largely inborn and unchangeable. And yet these premises seem basic to the recent US Supreme Court ruling [Atkins v. Virginia] that from now on, criminal executions are to be based on IQ scores. As Bob says, "Where is Stephen Jay Gould when we need him?"

George writes, "Gould didn't run from the IQ fight. He published an attack on the book The Bell Curve."

Yes, Gould repeated various attacks on IQ, but look at these criticisms of Gould's book. For critical opinions online, see Carroll, Davis, Jensen, Rushton (or shorter version), and Hunt. Some of these essays tend to show up on racially sensitive sites, but these are legitimate scientists with legitimate criticisms.

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