[ExI] Impressive book: Farewell to Alms

BillK pharos at gmail.com
Tue Feb 5 17:29:22 UTC 2008

On Feb 5, 2008 7:11 AM, Lee Corbin wrote:
> Yes, there certainly are speculative elements to Clark's
> analysis. But that's true of most social "science".
<big snip>

It is a waste of time to nitpick every word in a one-page book review.
No review can possibly be as detailed in argument as a 440 page book.
All a reviewer can hope to do is point at a few weaknesses and express
an opinion. Which version you prefer usually depends on which version
confirms your prejudices.

As we already know, everything human has a genetic component. So
nothing new there. However humans also have large cultural and
institutional components. The weight given to each of the forces
combining to make a human decision will vary with every individual.
That's the problem.

A Google search indicates that Libertarians are coming out in support
of this book as providing support for  their claim that 'the poor
deserve to be poor'. And right-wingers want to use the book to justify
cutting off all international aid because it is a lost cause.  See -
people clutch at anything that might be additional support for their
previously decided upon beliefs.

I've just noticed that the New Scientist is claiming that whether you
vote Republican or Democrat is down to genetic influences and it is a
waste of time to try and change opinions. So obviously it is my
genetic inheritance that is making me think this book is making a
false claim.  :)

According to an emerging idea, political positions are substantially
determined by biology and can be stubbornly resistant to reason.
"These views are deep-seated and built into our brains. Trying to
persuade someone not to be liberal is like trying to persuade someone
not to have brown eyes.


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