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French administration tries to subject scientists to “Darwinism”; revolt follows

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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.

The Long Ascent, Volume 2

Our physics color commentator, Rob Sheldon, author of Genesis: The Long Ascent and The Long Ascent, Volume II, kindly wrote to say,

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?

6 Replies to “French administration tries to subject scientists to “Darwinism”; revolt follows

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    As usual, the Darwinists aren’t even following Darwin.

    He wasn’t talking about survival of one individual within a species, he was talking about survival of a species. It’s obvious that most species use altruism and self-sacrifice and cooperation along with competition.

    In this case the species Expertus Scientificii is being HARMED by too much competition for grants among INDIVIDUALS. There’s not enough guild action to damp down destructive individuals and preserve the group and the world.

    When individual scientists get billions to generate black holes and torture dissidents, the species and the world are harmed.

    A proper guild would control the particle physicists and Climate Emergencyologists to maintain the stability of the species and the culture and the universe. Without a culture and a universe, no individuals can exist.

  2. 2
    Mimus says:

    He wasn’t talking about survival of one individual within a species, he was talking about survival of a species.

    Where do you get this stuff from? Just flicking through the pages of The Origin or reading any halfway decent summary of its contents would show you this is wrong.

  3. 3
    Silver Asiatic says:

    I’ve heard several evolutionists make that reinterpretation of Darwin — that evolution does not occur at an individual-based selection but only as a species-based idea. To my reading Darwin was talking about individuals who eventually out survive and populate the rest, thus resulting in speciation.
    I don’t know why there was suddenly a denial of that concept. I con only guess it was because someone discovered major problems when trying to explain things from an individual level. Maybe it’s a problem trying to explain competition within species, and how to explain collaboration and altruism. So, supposedly, it’s the species trying to hold itself together and out-populate other species.

    It strikes me that the species-evolution idea is a creative work-around for some problem.

  4. 4
    Silver Asiatic says:

    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.

    I don’t see it that way. Jean Calvin was a precursor to the dog-eat-dog worldview and nobody ran roughshod over proper living like he did during his time. And he’s a French hero, at least to the Huguenots. A general anti-Anglo bias contributes.
    But I really think it’s just the simple fact that the theory didn’t make sense when it first emerged and it remains that way until now. In England and her colonies (I include the USA), Darwin’s name is sacred, so people don’t dare to hurt national pride or to blaspheme the Theorist. But the French don’t care about that. They see it as an Anglo-thing. But I think other Europeans are becoming more free to doubt Darwin for similar reasons.
    I’d put it this way, England will be the last nation on earth to finally give up the Darwinian fantasy.

  5. 5
    Seversky says:

    What is ironic is that Paleyists are bitterly critical of the “dog eat dog” evolutionary model of biological diversity yet will defend exactly the same model of “survival of the fittest” in capitalist economics just as vehemently.

  6. 6
    ET says:

    seversky:

    What is ironic is that Paleyists are bitterly critical of the “dog eat dog” evolutionary model of biological diversity…

    What model? Evolutionary biology has demonstrated that COOPERATION has been the key to survival- you know, just like capitalism…

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