It’s an open secret that many French scientists never much believed in Darwinism anyway and the adminbots consider them a problem. Recall that the scientist who discovered the giant mimivirus had little use for Darwinism and as a result had a hard time getting published in France (2012 era).
More recently, the head of France’s top network of research institutes wants a new law, “virtuous and Darwinian law,” to create “Darwinian” competition among academics for research funding. One outcome is that “29 faculties and 26 labs were reported to be on strike in protest against the proposed changes”:
The chief executive of France’s leading network of research institutes has faced a huge backlash from scientists after calling for a new law to unleash “Darwinian” competition among academics for funding.
Antoine Petit’s comments appear to have set off an unprecedented row within the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) ahead of a new research law set to come before the French parliament in February or March…
Some of the CNRS’ top scientists, including the president of its scientific council, responded that the comments had caused “deep disapproval and deep concern” in an open letter released the following month.
“There is complete consensus within the CNRS [against this approach] – except for the head,” said François Massol, a CNRS evolutionary ecologist.David Matthews, “Backlash over call for ‘Darwinism’ in French research funding” at Times Higher Education Supplement
The text of the law has not been released so who can say whether it is good or bad, in-between, or just plain useless?
We can say for sure that a law based on Darwinism would be bad. Yes, competition is essential but it must be intelligently directed to a desired end. A war of all against all is just destruction for all.
I don’t think it is so surprising that the French establishment are opposed to making intellectuals compete for funding. My impression of the French, which of course is biased, is that they have never really taken to Darwinism, viewing it as another one of those Anglo-Saxon dog-eat-dog economic models that run roughshod over the art and aesthetics of proper living. The joke I heard in Switzerland was that the French work to live, the Germans live to work, and the Swiss just work.
And while the US research-educational complex has produced more Nobel prizes and advances than the European model, becoming the envy of every European prof I’ve spoken with, there are some serious drawbacks that may reverse this trend. In a Darwinian system, somebody has to decide what “survival” means, somebody has to decide the fitness landscape.
In the US that is the Federal Government, through its allocation of research grants, usually by setting up review panels. But the people on the review panels are usually chosen from the set of researchers who have been successful at getting grants. This positive feedback means that very rapidly an elite group rewards those who are part of the elite. This shuts out competing models, encourages uniformity, and stifles creativity.
In several scientific fields I have dabbled in, the US is invariably more uniform and less creative. At several international conferences I attended, the Europeans were far more receptive to my non-mainstream analysis than the Americans, who were all huddled together and generally dismissive of the others.
Most recently at the SPIE (international society of photonics and optics) conference in San Diego, I noticed that 80% of the speakers were foreign-born, and much of the cutting edge in quantum optics was being done in Germany and Austria, countries with much smaller research budgets. Even in a field the US dominates, like particle physics, Sabine Hossenfelder has been saying for years that progress has stopped, though she is perhaps too much a part of the system to criticize the funding mechanism.
So on the whole, Darwinism looks like it makes short-term gains at the cost of long-term stagnation. It clearly sacrifices the group for the sake of a few aggressive individuals. It was good for Stalin, Russia not so much. Or to say it differently, capitalism and other Anglo-Saxon economic models work best when they are tempered with teleology.
Without intelligent design, how do we even know if we are making progress?