Here’s how Dennis Mangan, paraphrasing a famous New York Daily News headline from the 1970s, today characterized my views on the Human Biodiversity movement:


Mangan thus portrays my critical position on Sailerite bio-reductionism and Sailerite citizenism—a position I have consistently articulated for years—as a vicious personal assault on all “bio-cons.” He also says that “[Auster] accuses those whose thinking is informed by HBD of treason.” Of course I said nothing of the kind. So who is the one who is making—as Mangan accuses me of making—“wildly off-base accusations”? He’s accusing me of saying terrible things I never said.

Worse, his announcement that I have said “drop dead” to bio-cons and that I have accused them of “treason” is an invitation to his commenters and all bio-cons to attack me. Since I have supposedly personally attacked them in the worst way, they will feel justified in personally attacking me in the worst way. But I haven’t personally attacked anyone.

Also, in a comment yesterday, Mangan said that people have to be irrational to believe in God.

Here are his words:

Any rational person considering the events of the 20th century would have to conclude that God does not exist. Or that if he does, his concern for the world is minimal, He won’t lift his little finger to help anyone, and therefore is not worthy of worship. But of course religious belief isn’t based on evidence. Unlike the theory of evolution.

Mangan then goes on to say that his attack on religious belief is justified by the “daily attacks on atheists and ‘Darwinians’ coming from Christians.”

But I never made any equivalent comment about bio-conservatives. I haven’t said that a person has to be irrational, let alone treasonous, to believe in Human Bio-Diversity. I’ve said that the study of human biological differences, while offering important and vital insights, must not become the whole thing or the primary thing, because that leads to biological reductionism, which falsifies the nature of reality and is incompatible with any social order including our own. So I don’t reject the study of biological difference or say that this it irrational or evil; how could I, since I talk about biological differences myself? I only say that the study of biological differences needs to be part of a comprehensive understanding of the world and not be made into a reductive ideology.

Mangan’s statement about Christians lacks any such qualifications. He says that people who believe in God are irrational. So, again, who is the person who is erecting a wall between traditional conservatives and bio-conservatives? Not I. To the contrary, I said the other day that human biodiversity, properly understood (that is, without the reductionism), is a part of traditional conservatism.

As for Mangan’s own evolving position, I said last week (in an entry I subsequently took offline after Mangan protested it, but now I think I’ll put it online again) that Mangan’s long-time middle position between reductive biodiversity and traditional conservatism seemed to be breaking down. And it turns out that my intuition about him was completely correct, since he has now declared belief in God to be irrational, something he never said before. On a parallel point, he said a couple of weeks ago at his site that he has “no answer” to many of my criticisms of Darwinism. Will he change that position now as well?

—end of initial entry—

Todd White writes:

If you’re interested, here is what I wrote on Mangan’s webpage:

Dennis: I don’t think Auster told you to “drop dead.” And if he did, I wouldn’t support it. I think he’s encouraging you to see the limits of the HBD paradigm to advance the cause we all share—protecting Western civilization. In that cause, we are all allies, and we need to work together. However, in addition, it’s perfectly legitimate for Auster (and others) to critique you when your judgment is flawed (as in the most recent case: the debate over “Game”). The HBD paradigm has enabled many conservatives to justify “Game” (including the Roissyite version) when common sense and critical thinking should dictate opposition. That’s all. No more, no less. To quote many moms throughout history: “I criticize because I care.”

LA replies:

Thank you.

I repeat what I said the other day. Your affable, friendly way of engaging in debate is very useful, very effective. (It’s not part of my m.o., but I appreciate it in others.)

Todd White replies:

Thanks. If I am affable, it’s simply a luxury from not having to deal with even five percent of the B.S. you encounter every day (!)

LA writes:

It was irresponsible and destructive of Dennis Mangan to characterize the interesting debate at VFR between HBD and traditional conservatism—a debate that I think it is important for conservatives to have—as a call on my part for HBD’ers to “drop dead.” There was nothing in what I said that remotely suggested “drop dead. ” What I was and am saying to the HBD’ers is this: there is a contradiction between your professed desire to save the West, and your material reductionism. The contradiction can be ended very simply, by keeping the key insights gained from biodiversity, while no longer reducing the world to biodiversity or treating biodiversity as your master concept. In short, what I am calling on the HBD’ers to do is to integrate biodiversity within conservatism, rather than turning biodiversity into an atheist campaign against conservatism.

As I said the other day in the comment that so exercised Mangan, to believe that you can win over conservatives while attacking religion and belief in God is delusional. How many anti-God conservatives do you think you’re going to find in America—or in the Milky Way galaxy for that matter?

Kristor writes:

The shrillness with which one voices one’s argument is inversely proportional to one’s overall confidence in its strength.

This is a corollary to my oft-repeated saw: The ad hominem attack is his last redoubt, who feels he has already lost the battle.

Saying, “Oh, those theists are just irrational,” is a way to stop thinking about the arguments for theism. It is a way to fend off the possibility that one might be logically forced to change one’s views—which is to be sure always a disconcerting prospect, indeed often dangerous.

LA replies:

According to his current logic, Mangan will interpret your comment as saying “drop dead” to atheists.

Kristor replies:

LOL! Maybe so.

But here’s a frightening thought. When a convinced atheist hears a theist say to him, “God Bless you,” does that feel to him like, “God damn you to hell”?

LA writes (9:00 p.m.):

I just checked Mangan’s site for the first time in a few hours. Not only is he continuing his irrational attack on me, he’s intensifying it. First, he says I am “furiously backpedaling” from my positions when I deny that I said “drop dead” or accused bio-cons of “treason,” In other words, if I call out a false charge against me as a false charge and show that I didn’t say what someone falsely accuses me of saying, that means I am backpedaling from what I really said.

Further, instead of dropping his charge that I accused biocons of “treason,” he’s repeating it. He insists that my statement that Sailer and his followers

“have no concept of or loyalty to anything larger than the individual person and his desires—whether God, the Good, Christianity, Western culture, the historical American nation, the American constitutional order, or the white race,”

is an accusation of “treason.” This is wild. Has Mangan read none of my writings about liberalism? It is central to my analysis of liberalism—of which I’ve argued that Steve Sailer’s citizenism is a variation—that liberals disbelieve in any higher or larger reality and see the individual person and his desires as the highest reality. I’ve been making the same argument in various formulations for many years, and never called liberals as such traitors (yes, I have called individual liberals, e.g. GW Bush and John McCain, traitors). But Mangan is so uncomprehending, and so on fire with his new-found conviction that I am an enemy, that he interprets my philosophical analysis of the spiritual disease of liberalism as a personal accusation of treason.

Also, let us remember that treason means “giving aid and comfort to the enemy.” Treason does not mean “believing that the individual self and its desires are the highest reality.”

For a brief statement of my analysis of liberalism in its rejection of larger wholes, see the opening section of my speech, “A Real Islam Policy for a Real America.”

For my discussion of Sailer’s citizenism see these articles:

Sailer’s attempt to combine race realism with liberalism

Sailer versus Taylor on white nationalism

Are whites too individualistic to survive?

“Citizenism” vs. white nationalism

It feels bad to see Dennis Mangan, who has always seemed even-tempered and moderate, with a charming, self-deprecating wit, become so bent out of shape, and, frankly, malign. But that’s what happens to some people when they’re challenged intellectually. They interpret intellectual criticism of their ideas as an unprincipled personal attack on themselves, which in their mind justifies an unprincipled personal attack on the critic.

LA continues:

But what’s even more odd and unfortunate is that the statement by me that got Mangan riled up wasn’t about him. I spoke in a general way of “human bio-diversity thinkers, led by Sailer.” Mangan was not mentioned. Morever, I had said just a few days previously that I didn’t see Mangan as a biodiversity follower as such, but as someone who bridged the gap between biodiversity and traditionalism. If Mangan were a true biodiversity thinker, would he have publicly stated at his site that he had no answer to my arguments against Darwinian evolution? But Mangan nevertheless seemed to take my general statement about “human biodiversity thinkers, led by Sailer” as a direct attack on himself. It’s hard to account for his rage otherwise.

Ben W. writes:

Mangan wrote in a past entry:

“Science works through reducing the complexity of a system to simpler parts in the hope of gaining an understanding of the system as a whole.”

Notice the presupposition inherent in Mangan’s statement: one reduces the complexity of a system in order to understand it. But if the system is complex in its totality, completeness and form, how does reducing it make it understandable? Reduction means altering its form by subtracting elements. The reduced form then is no longer what it originally was so how does one understand the original through its deformation? Why the assumption that the complexity of a system can be logically and formally reduced without penalty in understanding?

In any case Mangan (who is a clinical laboratory scientist) has a mechanistic 19th century view of science which has been superseded by 20th century physics which no longer relies on reductionism in its methodology.

LA replies:

What you’re saying about Mangan’s approach to scientific truth echoes my problem with this cult of “parsimony”—a term that certain people repeat with great assurance like sleep-taught Alpha minuses in Brave New World. Why should a parsimonious explanation be the truest? Why? There’s no good reason. To the contrary, it seems to me that the best explanation for a phenomenon is the explanation of that phenomenon which … drum roll … best explains it, not the explanation which happens to be the most parsimonious. Parsimoniousness is a phrase that becomes a substitute for thought. It’s a typical verbal formula that people can rely on (such as “Supporting Muslim despots didn’t work, therefore spreading democracy must work”), instead of trying to understand what is.

Now, when I wrote the above, I didn’t know anything about the subject of parsimony except my own own ininstructed thoughts. But now read this from Wikipedia:

In the scientific method, Occam’s razor, or parsimony, is an epistemological, metaphysical, or heuristic preference, not an irrefutable principle of logic, and certainly not a scientific result. As a logical principle, Occam’s razor would demand that scientists accept the simplest possible theoretical explanation for existing data. However, science has shown repeatedly that future data often supports more complex theories than existing data. Science tends to prefer the simplest explanation that is consistent with the data available at a given time, but history shows that these simplest explanations often yield to complexities as new data becomes available.

So it turns out that parsimony—maximum simplicity of explanation—is not at all a reliable scientific guide.

August 30

Terry Morris writes:

Mangan wrote in a past entry:

“Science works through reducing the complexity of a system to simpler parts in the hope of gaining an understanding of the system as a whole.”

Totally bassackwards approach. Doesn’t Dennis understand that this is methodology used in our public and private schools, i.e., part-to-whole, as opposed to its opposite—whole-to-part? In point of fact, isn’t this part-to-whole methodology pervasive in our society? And we wonder why our society is falling apart!

In advocating for a return to whole-to-part methodology I’ve used before a simple analogy which I think works in spite of its simplicity. To wit:

If I hand you a 5,000 piece puzzle in a brown box with no markings on it and ask you to put it together, how much difficulty are you going to have doing so? On the other hand, if I hand you the same puzzle contained in a box with a picture of the completed puzzle on its face (the whole view), how much easier will it be for you to put the puzzle together? Imagine trying to break down a Rembrandt, for instance, into its minute parts. Without the whole view of the piece of art, you have no idea what the individual brush strokes and painting techniques are telling you. They’re just random brush strokes and various colors applied to canvas.

I think it is useful and essential to break down complex systems (or paintings, or puzzles, etc.) into their constituent parts and to learn from them as parts of a larger (whole) system, but it’s certainly not wise (or particularly rational) to break them down and study them independently of the whole system in order to gain an understanding of the whole system.

John Dempsey writes:

Mangan’s position change was inevitable. I was under the assumption that I must somehow be misunderstanding the HBD position until I read your latest entry, “HBD’s problem is even bigger than I said.” I now realize that my comprehension was not in error. Which leads me to ask you; What made you previously think that you could ally the traditionalist (our) position with the godless, bio-reductionist position of the HBD’ers? How were the two positions even remotely compatible in your eyes, or was it simply the common goal of saving the West that put you in their corner?

I am of the mind that it is not possible to take a truly conservative position on a consistent basis while at the same time rejecting God. At its core, conservatism acknowledges that there are basic to life, certain realities which are unchangeable, which cannot be manipulated or controlled, even though we don’t understand them, and that they are not always seen by us as being good. But these realities must be looked upon as being part of the plan, God’s plan, which makes them good and therefore we should accept them as being the good. We then work to achieve a stable society by working together toward a common enterprise, utilizing what we have been presented to us in our surroundings in order to make our lives better. If we are of the mind that we have the ability to construct our own reality (which is liberalism’s vision), what is it that we are conserving? If we take the HBD position, we can really know of no ultimate good that we should be conserving.

Thanks for your current explanation of why the HBD position is not compatible with conservatism.

LA replies:

I haven’t written about HBD that much except in scattered entries about Steve Sailer. I’m not sure, but I don’t think I’ve ever written about HBD as a whole movement or tendency of thought, or of being allied with them as such. Rather I thought of HBD as Sailer’s name for his general view. People into the Sailer view were out there as one of the contingents on the right which were on our side on immigration and race differences but not on our side insofar as they are Darwinian materialists. What brought HBD into view as a movement were the recent (and rather triumphalist) statements coming out of the Game debate in which some HBD bloggers said that the only two types of conservatism that offered some kind of comprehensive view of things were HBD and traditionalist or social conservatism. Then the Undiscovered Jew wrote to me and that set off the discussion, “Is Human Bio-diversity the next conservatism?”

Prior to this very recent discussion, I don’t think I’ve ever focused on the meaning of HBD as such, or on HBD vis a vis traditionalism and whether the two can ultimately get along or not.

Also, I don’t think I had ever thought of Dennis Mangan as being an HBD’er per se. Yes, he believed in race differences and so on, as I do, and he was of more a Darwinian bent, but again, I wasn’t thinking in terms of a belief in race differences translating into membership in a movement called HBD. Also, there were always the Darwinian types and materialists who would comment at Mangan’s blog, and with some of them you could have an exchange, and others were yapping anti-God terriers whom you avoided. But, again, I don’t remember thinking of the Darwinian materialists at Mangan’s as “HBD’ers” as such.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 29, 2009 02:41 PM | Send

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