Sunday, June 28, 2020

Evolution and Black Lives Matter

I hate evolution.

I don't mean the concept; I mean the word. The problem is that it's so ambiguous. Specifically, it has two entirely distinct meanings. One refers to the historical claim that all animal life descended from a common ancestor. This is something either true or false; and it is regarded by the entire scientific community (absent certain religious fundamentalists) as true, supported by a broad convergence of evidence.

The other meaning of "evolution" is the mechanism of evolution, the causes and process via which one species changes into another. This is not a true/false proposition; rather, there are primary candidates proposed for the mechanism (such as random mutations coupled with natural selection), along with other secondary mechanisms. Nobody believes that we understand the mechanisms entirely (that's why people still study them). The vast majority of scientists believe that there is enough evidence to be confident that we have the basics correct, while a minority disagree.

One result of there being two totally different meanings of the term "evolution" is that there are a lot of pointless arguments, resulting from people talking at cross-purposes. One group screams that it's just a theory, which even scientists dispute, while others insist that it's a scientific fact, which no scientist disputes. But they are talking about entirely different things.

In fact, the entire, huge, religion-science argument about evolution would never have developed to the scale that it did, had Darwin not come up with both aspects of evolution and presented them under a single banner. If Darwin had just proposed common ancestry, and a generation later someone else would have proposed a mechanism, things would have played out very differently (and much better).

There's a similar problem with the phrase Black Lives Matter. What does it actually, specifically, mean? I'm not talking about Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter - of course the point of BLM is that black lives are more threatened/ disregarded than white lives. I'm talking about what exactly Black Lives Matter, as a capitalized phrase, refers to.

An article in the LA Times, back in 2015, titled "Why the term 'Black Lives Matter' can be so confusing," spelled out the problem: "the words could be serving as a political rallying cry or referring to the activist organization. Or it could be the fuzzily applied label used to describe a wide range of protests and conversations focused on racial inequality." According to Wikipedia, the phrase "Black Lives Matter" can refer to "a Twitter hashtag, a slogan, a social movement, or a loose confederation of groups advocating for racial justice."

But it's even more complicated than that. For example, if you want to give money to support Black Lives Matter, who do you give it to? There's a "Black Lives Matter Foundation" in California which received millions in donations from people who were fired up by recent events, but then discovered that this particular foundation seeks to promote closer relationships between the black community and the police - which is not what they were expecting! So by supporting Black Lives Matter, are you supporting creating closer bonds with the police, or dissolving the police?

Then there's an organization called "Black Lives Matter" with thirty chapters across the US, but which is decentralized. Then there's a larger Black Lives Matter movement which includes various related organizations. And then there's the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation. And then, of course, the world is much bigger than just the US, with various BLM groups around the world.

All this, aside from creating confusion and misplaced donations, can also create a real ethical dilemma. Certain BLM groups are neo-Marxists, and some of them are actively antisemitic. For many people, BLM is linked with opposition to Israel. Consider this tweet that was just sent out by the UK Black Lives Matter organization:



So what is one to do if one wants to fight racism, but the phrase/ organization that is associated with this fight, is also associated with people who are engaging in antisemitism?

I'm on a mailing list for a chain of pet stores (of course), and I received an email from the CEO saying that "now is the time to state plainly and unequivocally that Black Lives Matter and to do our part to ensure that this is our truth." The rest of the email expressed some important truths about human and civil rights, valuing diversity and helping people in underrepresented communities. I'm all for that - but are they speaking in suitably broad terms, are they supporting a particular organization, or are they supporting all organizations under this name?

It's all very confusing - and it's difficult to know what to do. Like evolution, it would be better if the terminology was more specific.


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60 comments:

  1. How about just stating plainly and unequivocally that Black lives matter?

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    Replies
    1. OK. But what do you say to people who ask you to support Black Lives Matter?

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    2. State it plainly and unequivocally for what purpose?

      Delete
    3. @Yehoshua: That's the same as not saying anything. Are there really people who believe that black lives don't matter, or that they matter less?

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    4. You say: What, specifically, do you mean by that?

      Delete
    5. @ Gabriel

      --"Are there really people who believe that black lives don't matter, or that they matter less?"--

      Yes. There are. I live in their territory in a deeply divided Eastern state.

      They are forced out of jobs.

      They are talked about as "ruining the neighborhood" (when it was the neglect and abandonment of white people, when coal was replaced by other fuels, that actually caused the suburban/rural rot around here).

      I had a Trump supporter say that undocumented people should be, and I quote, "lined up and shot".

      Yes, there are people who realky think this.

      Delete
    6. "I had a Trump supporter say that undocumented people should be, and I quote, "lined up and shot"."

      I actually know people who say that. Of course, I disagree with them. Most conservatives do not think this way at all.

      Delete
  2. BLM is more of a wave then a particle. If it has any specific meaning, or an eigenvalue at which the BLM wave resonates at a discreet harmonic, that will become clear in the wording and implementation of legislation and legislative programs affecting how the state interacts with the citizens and regulates interactions between citizens. The toppling of statues, tweeting, protesting, looting, and posting on Rationalist Judaism - even the changing of the Mississippi state flag: these are all immaterial actions rather than societal change. In my, immaterial, opinion. It may turn out that the solution to the BLM wave equation is the trivial one: nothing at all changes.

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    1. The savages and barbarians committed criminal material harmful actions plus will probably set back race relations not help them. BLM was founded on a lie and continues to lie thus having negative material effects on society and especially the black community.

      Delete
    2. @ Alter

      United States slavery is a lie? The fact that half the country killed their fellow countrymen for the "right" to own peopke is a lie?

      Would you consider toppling statues of Goebbels or would only thugs and vandals do that??

      Delete
    3. @ Unknown - Come on. Why dont you read what I wrote about slavery by checking my comments on RNS blog post. "Would you consider toppling statues of Goebbels or would only thugs and vandals do that??" Very good question. The BLM are tearing down and defacing statues of people not remotely as evil as Goebbels. But if there was a statue of an evil American I still would not defend mobs tearing it down. It has to be done via the democratic process not mob rule. Also as works of art and history I would hope they could be preserved perhaps in a special park or museum.

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    4. @ Alter

      "Not even remotely as evil"?

      People who think their fellow human beings (not even considering color) should be relegated to property status, and kill their own countrymen to move national power to allow them so, are just sorta "slightly evil"?

      Didn't the entire Jewish nation go through this "people aren't proerty" thing thousands of years ago and consider the opposition more than just a touch evil?

      Of course, like you, if you yourself consider an entire demographic a bunch of "savages, barbarians, criminals" and really, truly think that half of the objective reality of United States history is one gigantic lie then obviously there's nothing else that can be said.

      I'll leave you to your hardened racism and embarassing thought process.

      Delete
    5. @ Unknown I am not a racist and I truly resent being called one. Come on, read my comments on past few RNS blog posts. America was never remotely as evil as the Nazis. I never denied slavery existed in USA, plus USA fought a war to abolish it. Never wrote entire demographic a bunch of savages, barbarians, criminals, but if you refer to the rioters that looted, raped, maimed, murdered, torched and destroyed property - yes that is what they are.

      Delete
    6. "It has to be done via the democratic process not mob rule."

      I find this take interesting, because my impression is that the original establishment of these monuments was not carried out via the democratic process.

      Certainly there are lots of monuments in US South that were erected during the early 20th century, when many of these regions were majority-Black, that glorify the leaders of the slave-owning Confederacy. Were they put up with democratic support?

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    7. @Joe Q. "Were they put up with democratic support?" I imagine they were put up with the extant legal and democratic institutions approval; and by such means they can be removed. But if they were not, then I imagine there existence can be legally challenged and perhaps taken down by legal means not by crazed mobs. Now that they are up and have been so for decades, mobs do not have the right to tear them down just because those mobs do not like them. Also read the rest of what I wrote.

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    8. Hey Unknown, don't folks like you say we shouldn't celebrate the deaths of the Egyptians?

      So maybe you need to temper the punishment you wish for White America to receive for their crimes of several hundred years ago against black people?
      Just a thought.

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    9. Anyone who supports the violent toppings of statues that are works of art and history is stupid. Not to mention that these thugs are ripping down statues of Abraham Lincoln. Look, if you don’t like the statues go to another country or at least put them in a museum. The left wants to destroy history because they feel that the people being portrayed were bad. True, these men did many wrongs. For example, it was immoral for Washington to own slaves. But when asked to rule millions in the form of dictatorship, he declined. Yes, like the patriarch Abraham, they were human. So the statues celebrate not their flaws but their good contributions to society.

      No one’s perfect. In fact, if your reading this post from your iPhone, your probably no better than the founders. Your iPhone is literally built on the backs of slave mines in Africa. Yes, slavery is still a thing and it is a thriving business in that part of the world.

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    10. Based man. I feel like people both in and outside the US actually know the full story. Unarmed white people are actually more likely to be killed by police than unarmed black people, both per capita and in proportion to the crime they commit. Is there racism in America? Sure, amongst individuals. Is there "systemic racism" and a specific police brutality issue against blacks? That's another story. I feel like questioning this just makes you be seen as a racist by even the average apolitical guy in America

      Delete
  3. BLM supporters are the ones actively voting against the party sickening and killing their own country.

    So, when the "Pro-Israel" Right stops pretending US slavery existed, and also stops using Zionism as a spiritual shield in order to do things like allow businesses to loot the labor force and set up a white supremacist in office that wants to destroy his own country and people from the inside out, I'll regard the "Pro-Isreal" Right as something resembling humanitarianism again.

    Black Lives Matter.

    Black people from what I've read are telling privilege to finally accept the privilege it has, and the best way to support BLM is to educate yourself on factual US slavery history.

    Israel deserves to exist, obviously, and I will never dispute that.

    But credit for support of Israel only goes as far as what you think Israel *is* and what you're doing when you're done cheering for it.

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    1. @Unknown I think BLM and you ought to educate yourselves of the horrible slavery that still exists in Africa (by blacks to blacks). As well as the blacks killing blacks by the thousands in Africa. It is about time BLM confronted that and the fact that Arabs and Blacks were engaged in slave trade. Every student used to know that Black Slavery did exist in USA, but a war was fought and it was stopped. Those are the facts.

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    2. "set up a white supremacist in office that wants to destroy his own country and people from the inside out" Delusional and without a shred of evidence. You have swallowed lies hook line and sinker.

      Delete
    3. @Alter

      In the past 24 hours, Trump tweeted, to 8 million+ people, a wealthy retired white man covered in his logos yelling "WHITE POWER", and also a suburban white couple brandishing guns at peaceful protesters.

      He knows what he's doing and so do you.

      If he gets a second term chas v' sholom I really don't want to see "how did this happen?" head- scratching from the frum community supporting this hostile fireign installed chaos agent.

      Delete
    4. I already responded to the Trump Tweet and White Power so read my comments.

      Delete
    5. "the best way to support BLM is to educate yourself on factual US slavery history."

      With what education? Education can be manipulative. Take for intense, the 1619 Project. They claim to teach history, but what’s the difference between the past and history? The past is what happened in the past, ie past events. History is the ideological filtering of past events. Interpretations of 'selected' past. We call this propaganda.

      For example, the 1619 project claims that Africans came to America before Columbus and introduced technology that made it possible to build the pyramids. They say that while the Spaniards killed millions of natives with smallpox, Africans were building civilization. Nothing could be further from the truth. Worst, this claim is actually racist as it implies that the native Americans themselves were incapable of constructing impressive monuments or a civilization. Also, there is no evidence for an African presence in the Americas before Columbus. Look at statues of faces, they clearly resemble the Maya or Aztec peoples.

      Rather than liberal education, people should use your G-d-given capacity to think for yourself.

      Delete
    6. “set up a white supremacist in office that wants to destroy his own country and people from the inside out, I'll regard the "Pro-Isreal" Right as something resembling humanitarianism again.”

      Oh, so the annual murder of 900 deaths of innocent black babies, the best of humanity, slaughtered everyday in abortion is the human thing to do? Where is the blm? Won’t they someday say how awful we were to allow a million deaths per year? Isn’t killing someone worst than slavery? So you leftists are even worse that the average slave owner in the south (which weren’t many)!

      Delete
  4. "If Darwin had just proposed common ancestry, and a generation later someone else would have proposed a mechanism, things would have played out very differently (and much better)."

    Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahahahahahaha.��

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  5. The simple advice is to not fall under the spell of the racebaiting pied pipers of BLM movement. So far, based on your other posts, you haven't done a good job of resisting their propaganda.

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  6. " the point of BLM is that black lives are more threatened/ disregarded than white lives."

    Do you have any actual proof to back this very explosive claim up? Or are you just caving in to the latest intellectual fad?

    Given the fact that a white man was killed in almost exactly the same way four years ago, resulting in almost zero outcry, whereas George Floyd's death (and just about any other unarmed black man's death, regardless of the circumstances) led to nationwide riots and global demonstrations, I find your claim laughable.

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    1. "the point of BLM is that black lives are more threatened/ disregarded than white lives." Piffle

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    2. @ Dawidh

      --"a white man was killed in almost exactly the same way four years ago, resulting in almost zero outcry"--

      Because perhaps the Black community is aware that they are their brothers' keepers, unlike the right wing white community here in the US, that is STILL actively spreading the right wing propaganda that Covid-19 is a "hoax" and wearing masks is "unmasculine" and a sign of "being terrified".

      Delete
    3. “ black lives are more threatened/ disregarded than white lives."

      Forgot to mention that they are threatened by their own people. I mean to say that if you’re a black male you’re chances of dying in a gang shoot in Chicago is much greater than being killed by police. Facts don’t care about your feelings— Ben Shapiro

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    4. I wonder, if it were discovered that ancient amalekites were black, or better yet, modern amalekites are black, would @Unknown hate them and become a racist?

      In other words, he lectures about the evils of racism and yet is a racist when it comes to amalekites. It’s all about the narrative. Sheer hypocrisy!

      Delete
  7. the point about BLM is that ONLY black lives matter. everyone else can have their property or body attacked at will. It's just an excuse for thuggery.
    honestly if they really cared a toss about black lives they would be protesting the blacks killed by other blacks - by far the majority.

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    1. 5 out of 6 people arrested for damaging property in the US were white provocateurs.

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    2. Thank you for proving the point, mister unknown. Whites face discrimination in getting jobs, and now,,according to your own claim above, they are five times more likely than blacks to get arrested for property damage.

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    3. @Observer - I have stated previously (on a RNS blog post) that the studies I have seen have claimed essentially cops are color blind. However, I think I have read recently that cops actually treat whites being arrested worse than blacks. Why you may ask ? Because cops fear the backlash and recriminations we have just been witnessing when dealing with blacks. But when whites are killed by cops it makes for no backlash or recriminations.

      Delete
    4. Unknown proved observer’s point. That’s amusing.

      I’ll support blm whenever they cry about the annual 900 deaths of innocent black babies. Until then it’s hypocrisy and evil, especially when they say that no lives matter until blm. That’s disgusting.

      Delete
  8. "...the entire huge, religion-science argument about evolution would never have developed to the scale that it did, had Darwin not come up with both aspects of evolution and presented them under a single banner." -- Well, unless Alfred Russel Wallace had been more popular. (I realize I am focusing it on the lesser point in your essay.)

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  9. Here are SIX definitions of evolution:
    1. Change over time; history of nature; any sequence of events in nature.
    2. Changes in the frequencies of alleles in the gene pool of a population.
    3. Limited common descent: the idea that particular groups of organisms have descended from a common ancestor.
    4. The mechanisms responsible for the change required to produce limited descent with modification, chiefly natural selection acting on random variations or mutations.
    5. Universal common descent: the idea that all organisms have descended from a single common ancestor.
    6. “Blind watchmaker” thesis: the idea that all organisms have descended from common ancestors solely through unguided, unintelligent, purposeless, material processes such as natural selection acting on random variations or mutations; that the mechanisms of natural selection, random variation and mutation, and perhaps other similarly naturalistic mechanisms, are completely sufficient to account for the appearance of design in living organisms.

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  10. "One refers to the historical claim that all animal life descended from a common ancestor." Torah strongly suggests otherwise.

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    1. The Torah actually takes the same exact evolution of life pattern that science has constructed.

      Light > water > plants > water teeming with life > first land animals > hominids > Adam.


      Science and Torah doesn't disagree here.

      Delete
    2. I wrote blog posts documenting in detail that Evolution and Torah disagree. See my blog index.

      Delete
    3. @ Alter

      I'm not interested in the philosophical ramblings of racists.

      Delete
    4. @Unknown I am not a racist which you would realize if you read my comments on the past few RNS posts. You have also misrepresented my comments.

      Delete
    5. Of course Unknown doesn’t what to read your blog. He might actually learn something.

      In short, the creation account does not teach real science or history. I agree with Maimonides. It is a parable.

      Delete
  11. "The other meaning of 'evolution' is the mechanism of evolution, the causes and process via which one species changes into another." All the discussed mechanisms are natural and exclude supernatural explanations which rubs most religious the wrong way. Evolution renders the need for supernatural involvement redundant.

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    1. Unless G-d works from nature or set up nature to guide the process of evolution. This later idea actually makes more sense as it implies that G-d, who is perfect, designed perfect laws, so much so, that He no longer needs to intervene in the universe to get the desired result.

      Delete
    2. @TH - I do not want to clutter up RNS blog with a back and forth on this. It is possible the Lord did just as you wrote. Or perhaps maybe nature and it's laws just are with no need for a law giver or designer or creator.

      Delete
  12. Every year when we get to this week's parasha it bothers me that Balack didn't have a chance, the cards were stacked against him. Balack Lives Matter!

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  13. "The other meaning of "evolution" is the mechanism of evolution, the causes and process via which one species changes into another. This is not a true/false proposition; rather, there are primary candidates proposed for the mechanism (such as random mutations coupled with natural selection), along with other secondary mechanisms. Nobody believes that we understand the mechanisms entirely (that's why people still study them). The vast majority of scientists believe that there is enough evidence to be confident that we have the basics correct, while a minority disagree."

    Thanks for the validation! ;) That was my point in questioning natural selection a few weeks ago when all manner of hellfire and brimstone descended upon me . . .

    Yes, BLM is an amorphous term, and the brainless Orwellian corporate groupthink about it is pathetic to behold.

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  14. It's not complicated, and your recent posts about the museum illustrate it nicely. Tachlis: Do you have at least two (not merely a token) women, two sefardim, and two charedim on your Board of Directors? We can ask about homosexuals and handicapped also. If not, then YOUR'E a racist, and you should be forced out of your own institution.

    Do you understand now the insanity gripping part of the US? Wake up, for God's sake.

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  15. Black lives are more endangered by the fellow blacks then by anyone else. These are simple fact. Also, blacks are the priviledged race in the USA, but 60 years of affirmative action cannot change one's genes. Nothing can. With government social programs favoring a disgenic reproduction the situation will get much worse.

    Yakov.

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    Replies
    1. This has nothing to do with genes and everything to do with (1) cultural values and (2) liberal Democrats controlling for the past half-century-plus the political system in the big metro areas where most blacks live.

      Delete
  16. https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2020/06/why-one-bad-tweet-shouldnt-distract-issues-driving-black-lives-matter

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  17. Darwin's thesis was that evolution occurred due to natural selection of variants. He had a lot of evidence for this, even in his day.

    What he lacked was a core mechanistic understanding of how variation could occur, as well as how the variants could propagate through generations. Darwin himself recognized the existence of these gaps in his theory.

    Those gaps were partially filled even in his day, though he was unaware of them (e.g. discovery of Mendelian inheritance patterns, identification of chromosomes).

    Others were worked out over succeeding generations, as the role of chromosomes, then the DNA in those chromosomes, then the structure of the DNA, then the means by which DNA is translated into proteins, then the means by which DNA mutation occurs and is repaired in vivo, were all worked out in excruciating detail.

    In parallel, concepts in genetics relating to selection pressure, drift, allele frequency changes, etc. were also worked out in great detail, in many cases before the underlying molecular biology was worked out.

    All that to say that we are at the point now where disputing evolution by natural selection on the basis of doubts about its mechanism is in the category of an "extraordinary claim" that requires "extraordinary evidence".

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    1. Wow, that's great, now please tell us all about what happened on earth before DNA existed, as well as how life and subsequently DNA and many other things came to exist. Or does that not count as part of the mechanism of how life evolved? It isn't so simple as you're making it out to be.

      Delete
    2. tell us all about what happened on earth before DNA existed

      Nobody knows for sure. There are theories, some with interesting experimental support. Hydrothermal vents are likely to have been involved, catalytic reactions on mineral surfaces, etc.

      Origin-of-life research is treated as a separate sub-discipline from evolutionary biology, because it is at a more primitive stage of development.

      Delete
    3. You fail to acknowledge that evolutionary biology, and the mechanism behind how evolution of life on earth occurred, does not begin and end with a pre-existing DNA molecule to explain it all.
      It is more complicated than that, just as Rabbi Slifkin asserts in the blogpost and his many writings.

      Delete
  18. Replies
    1. Hold on there, slick. People who chant 'black lives matter' only care about black lives when they're being killed by police, not when they're being killed by other blacks. And they certainly don't care about black education or overall wellbeing.

      Try supporting charter schools at a BLM rally and see what happens.

      Delete

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