An Unjustified Attack
To the Editors of The Crimson:
We are not entirely sure why we are wasting our time writing to comment on such a piece of self-apparent pap as Ms. Rosenthal's "Sociobiology: Laying the Foundation for a Racist Synthesis," (Crimson, 2/8/77) but perhaps we dislike seeing flagrant slanders and half-truths go unrebutted. Ms. Rosenthal represents two political organizations, the Committee Against Racism and the Sociobiology Study Group, part of Science for the People of Boston, yet she dares to continually attack those who dispute her brand of ideological orthodoxy with being "unscientific." She seems to posit some grand conspiracy advocating "immigration restriction, eugenics, imperialism, and anti-communism," originating in Spenser's Social Darwinism, continuing with the actions of "Nazi biologist[s]," and exhibiting itself today in "Arthur Jensen's revival of the doctrine of black genetic inferiority, thereby initiating a new wave of academic racism." She then tries to advance Professor E.O. Wilson's recent book, Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, as the culmination of this supposed trend, hoping to discredit it with guilt by association. Even though Ms. Rosenthal admits that "Wilson has nothing explicitly to say about race in his book," she nevertheless proceeds to compare the book with the Ku Klux Klan, the "unjust war in Indochina," "South Africa's U.S.-backed white minority," and the Nazi's "genocide against the Jews." We resent these atrocious attempts to inflame the readers' gut-level passions, rather than present any logical foundations for intelligent objections to Professor Wilson's book. That, not the reasoned inquiry Ms. Rosenthal so stridently vilifies, is the essence of unscientific tripe.
Ms. Rosenthal continues to espouse her "know-nothing" philosophy on science by professing astonishment that such small, seemingly insignificant things as "genes" can possibly influence everyday affairs--we wonder if she believes in atoms? "Did the U.S. wage war in Indochina in order to spread American genes?" she queries in blithe ignorance. It is obvious to anyone with a modicum of reasoning powers that Professor Wilson had nothing of the sort in mind when he wrote his book, but was simply suggesting that biological factors as well as environmental effects influence man's well-known penchant for aggression. Such a suggestion, especially considering the vast weight of evidence that backs it up, does not seem particularly far-fetched, nor does it seem in any degree racist. However, if Professor Wilson's views are indeed as absurd as Ms. Rosenthal seems to think, it would be more prudent on her part to allow his hypotheses to fall victim to the truly scientific method of test by experiment, rather than the politically-motivated haranguing of a nutritionist whose command of the topic is perhaps open to some doubt. Stephen Schumacher '80 James Armstrong '80