Genes & Jingo

Popular journalists have begun writing off the sociobiology revolution. "Can Sociobiology Be Saved? and quote the learned opinions of Stephen J. Gould and Ashley Montagu (would they lie?). They indulge in vaguely worded smears: Konrad Lorenz was a nazi, E. O.  Wilson  is  a  Southerner, and sociobiology is a code word for racism among members of the British National Front, the French Nouvelle Droite, and the American New Right. They hint darkly of a conspiracy be­tween fascists and biologists to alter the genetic destiny of the human  race. Even M. J. Konner, who should and does know better, disfigures an other­ wise splendid book, The Tangled Wing, by comparing contemporary genetic determinists with the racial theorists of the Third Reich. Anyone who has ever earned his bread by the sweat of his face in a college classroom will recognize the typical signs of the higher McCarthyism.

The assault is succeeding partly because American universities remain dominated by good old-fashioned leftist bigotry. Even the science departments are not immune: both Science and Scientific American have recently come under fire for their adherence to the party line on pop issues like environmentalism The banner of aca­demic freedom, it seems, is broad enough to cover only one side of the street. But there are other rea­sons. Even American conservatives–especially...

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