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  Topic: Politicized Pseudosciences, Why creationism and not vitalism?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  

Posts: 12
Joined: Jan. 2003

(Permalink) Posted: Oct. 09 2003,15:29   

Has anyone tried to explore why creationism has been so politicized? Politicization is not very common among pseudoscientists, even those who advocate very popular beliefs.

Astrologers, for example, are apolitical; they don't seem to want equal time for astrology in astronomy classes.

But a better comparison is with vitalism, the view that the processes of living things are due to some "vital force." It is a centuries-old view that survives as the "theoretical justification" of certain "alternative medical therapes." Aristotle had even identified three kinds of this force: the vegetable soul, the animal soul, and the rational soul.

But vitalism has suffered defeat after defeat after crushing defeat over the last few centuries, and it has become totally discredited among respectable scientists. Though there are still plenty of physiological puzzles, "vitalism of the gaps" is never thought worth considering.

Vitalists can easily make arguments parallel to creationists, like mentioning physiological processes that continue to be puzzles, the simplicity of "VitalForceDoesIt", how teenagers would be more likely to commit suicide and kill their classmates if they believe themselves to be biochemical robots rather than animated by some "vital force", etc.

Yet vitalists are apolitical, not wanting equal time for vitalism in classrooms. And creationists who appear to believe in some form of vitalism do not make an issue out of it, and coexist with apparently non-vitalist creationists like Michael Behe.

Notable politicized pseudosciences in the past have been Hanns Hörbiger's Welteislehre (Cosmic Ice Theory) and Lysenkoism.

The advocates of the Cosmic Ice Theory would apply pressure to get people to accept the theory; they were known to heckle astronomers' meetings with "Out with astronomical orthodoxy! Give us Hörbiger!". They even aligned themselves with Nazism, though the Nazi Party never officially endorsed it.

Trofim Lysenko had claimed that he could breed improved crop plants by altering their heredity; he believed that genes do not exist. He claimed impressive "results", but his experimental procedures were shoddy beyond belief -- he had no conception of a controlled experiment, and he believed that doing statistics is a waste of time. However, he got the support of Joseph Stalin himself, and mainstream geneticists were forced to recant, sent to gulags, or executed. Even the great biologist Nikolai Vavilov could not escape; he was sent to prison for allegedly being a British spy, dying there.

  3 replies since Oct. 09 2003,15:29 < Next Oldest | Next Newest >  


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