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The Political Gene: How Darwin's Ideas Changed Politics Hardcover – November 6, 2009

4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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About the Author

Dennis Sewell is a writer, a broadcaster, a contributing editor of the Spectator, and the author of Catholics: Britain’s Largest Minority. For more than 20 years he was on the staff of BBC News.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 270 pages
  • Publisher: Pan Macmillan (November 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 033042744X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330427449
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,603,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sewell's book is an excellent addition to the literature exposing Social Darwinism and the legacy of eugenics. The concealed ideological character of Darwin's theory is the ongoing scandal of biology. What is remarkable is the tenacity of the confusion and the inability of scientists to critque their own lack of objectivity. The current cult of fundamentalist Darwinism claiming the scientific mantle of evolution is in denial at the history here, as Darwin's selectionist myth of science spawned secondary effects as Social Darwinism, racialism, and eugenics. Darwin's theory is dangerous because anyone who takes it literally is keyed to the idea of social conflict potentially producing evolution at its most complex, a view that is surely fallacious in the worst way. This oversimplification at the core of Darwinian scientism is in part due to the reductionist mindset that assumes that a simple 'law' of evolution, like natural selection, is the explanation for just about everything, a subtle creationist myth in disguise.
The remedy is to see that theories of evolution don't come cheap, and to consider the facts of the evolution chronicle as a tale in itself, without propagandistic claims for the mechanism, such as the falsely promoted and generalized rubric of natural selection.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
You'll most likely either love or hate this book. It is unlikely to provoke a lukewarm response.
Dennis Sewell's book the 'Political Gene: How Darwin's Ideas Changed Politics' should probably have been titled 'The Political Life of Eugenics'. The majority of the book is devoted to the deplorable effect eugenics has had on public policy, with a body count that would have made blood-thirsty popes of the middle ages blush. Both the 'sterilisation of the unfit' and the restrictive (read: racist) immigration policy of the early-20th century U.S., are clearly linked to the machinations of the eugenicists. You will also be shocked at the still-lingering influence of this mindset.
It is not drawing to long a bow to link the racial purity obsession of the eugenicists with the core ideas of evolution. It's not too far a conceptual leap to go from 'nature weeds out the weak,' to 'let's give nature a hand in weeding out the weak'. Of course, supporters of evolution will argue 'survival of the fittest' as a concept is descriptive, not prescriptive (that is, it's not telling you what you should do, it just describes how life is). And it's true; it's up to you to decide how you will apply that particular philosophical concept: but this book leaves no doubt 'survival of the fittest' - particularly when dressed up in the thoroughly scientifically debunked robe of eugenics - is ripe for abuse by the unscrupulous.
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Format: Hardcover
In his new book, The Political Gene: How Darwin's Ideas Changed Politics, Dennis Sewell documented how often - and how easily - Darwinism has been harnessed for evil sinister political ends. For example, racism existed before Darwin but Darwinism caused the racial hierarchy to become a matter of science which inspired eugenics. The thinking behind eugenics is still with us today. One example Sewell noted which documented the fact that the problem is still with us is the case of Pekka-Eric Auvinen, a Finnish student who murdered eight people at his high school on November of 2007. Auvinen wrote on his blog that "stupid, weak-minded people are reproducing ... faster than the intelligent, strong-minded" persons. Sewell noted that Auvinen thought through the philosophical implications of Darwin's argument and concluded that human life, like every other animal life, has no special value. Sewell adds that the Columbine killers made similar arguments. One Columbine killer, Eric Harris, wore a "Natural Selection" T-shirt on the day of the massacre. These modern examples show how easily Darwin's writings can lead to very disturbed ways of thinking and behaving. The explosion in evolutionary psychology that attempts to describe every type of human behavior as genetically determined is another example. Sewell does not feel comfortable with such judgments being left to scientists. He also questions what the theory of evolution has done for the practical benefit of humanity. Darwin hardly occupies a high position compared to penicillin, MRI, DNA, or the World Wide Web revolution. Sewell then argues that Darwin has been put at the pinnacle of esteem by a vast public relations program
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Format: Hardcover
Dennis Sewell's book is a diatribe against the idea of "Darwinism" which he did not define but assumed to be the idea that one has if one accepts the biological theory of evolution. He sets out to assert without argument but with many examples that "Darwinism" has led to eugenics without understanding that the two are not related in the way he claims. The theory of evolution is a scientific theory. The practice or idea of eugenics is largely a question of ethics. There is a place for discussing the rights (if any) and wrongs of eugenic and that is in the field of ethics, philosophy, and perhaps, religion. Sewell's fear of evolution science is encapsulated in this passage he wrote: "or is he inviting you to assent to a darker and more worrying proposition: that our lives have no special meaning or significance; that all there is and has been in this world came through a series of astonishing flukes, and that the idea of a loving God is something we have invented for our consolation in the face of a pitiless indifference to Nature?"

He is an Intelligent Design proponent but has not admitted that that was the purpose behind this book. The content of his claims and assertions are clear on this. "Intelligent design has an appeal beyond the tiny minority of young-earth creationists and Christian fundamentalists who were identified with creation science." He claims that despite the "setbacks" to the Intelligent design movement "hostility to Darwinism has become a significant factor in American politics." He repeated the ID argument that since Hinduism and other religions are discussed in schools, ID too, should be given the same privilege. He treats Dawkins as dangerous as the Muslim clergy Amer Choudhury who he describes as an Islamic fundamentalist out to destroy western values.
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