Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Do Things Ever Change?

Image result for malay archipelago

Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

Kenneth Weiss is an emeritus professor (anthropology) at The Pennsylvania State University. Now that he is retired he posts less frequently on his blog The Mermaid's Tale but I still check it frequently.  I read Weiss for his thoughtful, critical comments on big science and genome association studies (GWAS).

Near Christmas 2018 Weiss wrote a "post as a kind of reminder, of who we are relative to who we fancy ourselves to be, relative to who we once were." The centerpiece was two pages from The Malay Archipelago (The Races of Man) by Darwin contemporary and co-discoverer of the theory of evolution, Alfred Russel Wallace, a book I've never read although I've read excerpts. The book concludes with a devastating critique and condemnation of his home country, England. The criticism still resonates with a truth we don't care to confront. Unfortunately, there have been almost no changes.

Compared with over wondrous progress in physical science and its practical applications, our system of government, of administering justice, of national education, and out chief energies to the utilizing of our knowledge of the laws of nature with the view of still further extending our commerce and our wealth, the evils which necessarily accompanying these when too eagerly pursued, may increase to such gigantic dimensions as to be beyond our power to alleviate.

We should now clearly recognize the fact, that the wealth and knowledge and culture of the few do not constitute civilization, and do not of themselves advance us toward the "perfect social state." Our vast manufacturing system, our gigantic commerce, our crowded towns and cities, support and continually renew a mass of human misery and crime absolutely greater than has even existed before.

Here are relevant links:

Professor Weiss's blog entry.

A long Wiki entry on Wallace.  It is divided into convenient sections making it easy to scan.

A review of The Malay Archipelago published in The Guardian.

A Wiki entry on GWAS. Scroll down for a section on some criticisms of GWAS

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