Why Are There So Many Evil Biologists?

I'm being facetious, of course, but the frequency of extremist politics and poor ethical conduct among biologists sometimes makes me wonder. I cite a few examples below in alphabetical order by last name. It's not an exhaustive list by any means. What is it with biologists?

Louis B. Agassiz

The last great creationist biologist, Dr. Agassiz describes his revulsion at seeing the hands of the blacks who served him when he visited America in terms which sound pathological. He advised Lincoln to send all the American blacks back to Africa, and speculated that "fast young men" in the south only had sex with blacks because they sensed the white blood in them (which leads to the logical problem of how the white blood got there in the first place).

Richard Dawkins

The noted science writer and proponent of the scientifically dubious sociobiology (now usually called evolutionary psychology) is a militant anti-religion crusader and has a pathological hatred of Christians in general and Roman Catholics in particular. He supported the work of anti-Semitic sociobiologist John Hartung and backed a scientific boycott of Israel, though he later backed away from the latter. He blamed the World Trade Tower attacks on belief in an afterlife and has stated that he would abolish "sectarian" schools if he had the power to do so.

R.A. Fisher

This great statistical biologist was a class elitist who despised working people (a common attitude among the upper classes of his time, to be sure, as with Agassiz's racism).

J.B.S. Haldane

A man of great learning, with an engaging sense of humor, Haldane was nonetheless a Communist Party member who repeatedly justified and propagandized for the USSR under Stalin. Also an adulterer.

William D. Hamilton

In his memoirs, which Richard Dawkins (qv) was instrumental in suppressing, Hamilton called for a worldwide eugenics program using infanticide and euthanasia. He stated that a defective child was better off dead, which is weird in light of the fact that he himself had a congenitally ill son. He also said he regretted the death of a single giant panda more than that of a hundred "Chinamen."

John Hartung

This editor of the premier sociobiology (or "evolutionary psychology") journal spends a great deal of his time complaining about how awful the Jews are and what a terrible religion Judaism is. He has called the Bible "the most evil book ever written" and writes articles with titles like "Rape and Cuckoldry in the Torah and Midrash Rabba." He positively reviewed Kevin MacDonald's crackpot books about the Jews and wrote editorial letters supporting Holocaust denier David Irving.

Konrad Lorenz

The great ethologist and student of animal behavior was a member of the Austrian Nazi Party. He denied it after the war, but people who have researched it say it is undeniable that he was an enthusiastic Nazi.

Trofim D. Lysenko

In order to push his pseudoscientific theories about agriculture, Lysenko, who had the support of Stalin, was responsible for the arrest, torture and execution of many biologists on ideological grounds (they were Darwinists, which was felt to be un-Marxist).

Kevin MacDonald

This fringe sociobiologist (though enthusiastically endorsed by John Hartung) writes books about how Jews are pursuing an "evolutionary strategy" which makes them enemies of every other group, including the suggestion that the Holocaust, though, of course, simply awful, was really an understandable reaction by the German people. He also testified on behalf of Holocaust denier David Irving (another anti-Semite endorsed by Hartung) when Irving sued historian Deborah Lipstadt for "defaming" him by calling him a Holocaust denier.

Richard Owen

A great biologist and creator of the term "dinosaur," Owen disliked Charles Darwin's theory and books so much that he wrote slashing reviews of them under fake names, under which he also wrote glowing reviews of his own works.

To be fair, I should also note the many ethically decent biologists out there, such as Jane Goodall and the late Stephen Jay Gould. Indeed, the founders of modern evolutionary theory, Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace, were by all reports kind, generous, open-hearted people. But for some reason there seem to be fewer nice biologists than nasty ones. I'm stumped as to what could be the explanation. Maybe it's sampling error on my part.

Page created:03/19/2005
Last modified:  02/05/2011