COSE CHE NON VI RACCONTANO DI CHARLES DARWIN – Enzo Pennetta

COSE CHE NON VI RACCONTANO DI CHARLES DARWIN – Enzo Pennetta


This Interview is offered by Re-establish a relation with what you consume,
what you produce and your territory Enzo Pennetta: biologist, professor of natural sciences, essayist.
Enzo Pennetta, welcome on byoblu.com thank you good evening Enzo, we are used to imagine our existence
as immersed in a competitive system They teach us since we are children.
The system for which “Mors tua vita mea”, “Big fish eats small fish”, “ Homo homini
lupus”? And this is conditioning us since it teaches us – for example
– that to be successful you have to fuck the others you must always be a step ahead,
you have to get rough. And does not matter if our succes means the defeat of hundreds or thousands. But today i wanted to ask you:
“Is it really like that? I mean, Nature’s laws are based exclusively on competition or there’s something else?
In short: where is the root of this belief Definitely cooperation matters much more.
And it is true that it was not always thought that there was competition amid the mechanisms
governing human society. The idea of competition arises – as you mentioned
referring to “Homo homini lupus” – with authors like Thomas Hobbes
who states that people’s relationships are governed by competition, without which they would tear each other into pieces So every man is wolf toward another man In which years are we, more or less? We are in the ‘600 on the way toward
that English society that will develop throughout ’700, ‘800 with what will
spread in all Europe, since indeed today – basically – we
– I guess nobody would wonder, nobody would be surprised
– we live in a society shaped by the anglo-saxon model. So this is something that
was born there and would spread everywhere. But before was not like this,
that is a human idea – first relevant thing to say -. And this idea is somehow followed
and re-elaborated by others A great name, like
Adam Smith, who will say: ” well, it’s true that people care about their interest,
but may be that’s not so bad, since, aiming to their personal advantage,
at the end one may obtain a common benefit “. What he calls
” The invisible hand ” that triggers a community of individuals, moved by their personal interests,
to persue the good for everybody So a competition that eventually becomes
good, somehow…. A bit like to say that the sharks,
competing for survival in the oceans with other fishes, do the good also
to those that they eat! Of course! Because you need to see that
if a fish – let’s say – a bit weaker and defective is taken away,
he will have a bad time, but the community will benefit… But that is the opposite of social science,
I mean, of the ultimate aim of society? Well! Of society yes… of the State. Protect
the individuals, the weakers, Has always been since 2000 years
the general idea: the weaker would be defended. And instead? Instead, afterwards comes the third big name of the
“Triad” – there would be others, let’s just focus on these three -: Thomas Robert
Malthus who – at one point – between the end of ‘700 and the beginning of ‘800
argued: “look, poverty is simply explained by this:
there are too many people respect to the available resources Already at that time:
guess what he would say today… Right! Indeed today we hear his
arguments obviously adapted at our times. So, he says: “What’s the only way
to fight poverty ? Not allowing an excess of population growth”… So Cina has helped a lot… Yes, well! How do you avoid that population
grows too much? Let Nature play…. I mean start
saying: “Poors, since anyway we cannot feed everybody
let them go through their path” Indeed, on the basis of these ideas,
will be approved laws prohibiting support to church aid
they say: “If I help the poor, what does he do? Misunderstands and proliferate, therefore worsening
the problem. Better some of them die now, rather than provoking
a bigger problem tomorrow. But they were licenced criminals! Well! No! No… they were enlighted people.
This is what we may think today, that they were criminals: that is true! But
let’s not say that to the economists of that time and to many economists of today too, who say:
“At the end Malthus’ thought was not so evil, because he wanted
the good of poors”. Sure! So, in order to avoid poverty you need to limit yourselves,
this is another beautiful mechansim: he was discharging responsibility on them, indeed saying:
“If you are poor, it is not my fault if I have accumulated wealth paying you the minimum”.
In brackets – the minimum wage was one of the dogmas of the time – “Workers
have to be payed with the minimum wage for survival and if he has more he gets spoiled” – Moreover
they spend money in the wrong way, basically It does not matter they had
estates with roes Because they were spending
money properly They were very spoiled, I mean the roes are like
the croissants of Marie Antoinette… Sure! So this is Malthus idea.
This was the english society of ‘800 based on these – let’s say – strongholds?
But what happened? Obviously We arrived at the time of Industrial Revolution… Yes… we have the big factories, with children
– lets not forget that – working in there with exhausting shifts, so we have
the eradication from countryside to create that urban working class that was absent
in previous times. What happen? Obviously this great deal of poor people,
of people living in great suffering, starts to become a danger. Not for anything that
is in England that communism is born, that is the “Manifest of the Communist Party” see the light
in the middle of the century in England, so In front of this social fight
it is needed an answer – let’s say – that may solve the problem. And here we come to
the connection that – let’s say – not too often is pointed out. So it is needed a reaction by the system
to solve the problem and the system consisting of… let’s say it: well! The system was clearly consisting of those
main characters either from finance or politics or from science, because in Britain
had set up a scientific structure directly depending from the crown.
Situation that normally did not happen elsewhere But sorry: Science, isn’t it democratic? Science is… this is a statement,
I heard lately: “It is NOT democratic”. In fact it would not be since has to
obey exclusively to the Truth, but then… Well! We would open a very long discussion…
As a matter of fact in England, since ‘600 there was the “Royal Society”, that is an institution
set from the idea of another big author: Francis Bacon, with the aim to bring science
at the service of the crown and the establishement more in general. This was declared in his writings,
we are not saying anything that cannot be directly verified, therefore
there was a great help from which find support to solve
the social conflicts. Because – by the way – with the “Royal Society”
are indeed invented the social sciences. So, this huge scientific apparatus
is anyway aimed since the beginning to make the interests of the State. Well… So what happen? This is what happen: what could be
– they say – the answer to give to these masses that may revolt and make
the revolution? I mean, the Revolution… … Convinced – think about it – to have rights! Yes! Convinced to have rights and convinced
to be treated unfairly, to be exploited and… they may rebel also because
they start to organize around marxism which provides them of an ideological container
in which move. The basic idea is to try to depict the world of the time
– paraphrasing another thinker – “The best of the possible worlds”. Therefore,
why would you rebel if you live in the best possible world? Of course! You need to accept it and understand that possibly
you must adapt and try to exploit the situation. So – in short – this is the idea:
Try to pass the concept that Nature has the the same laws on which is based
the English society of the time. And you do not know how many people nowadays
are still convinced by this thesis! That’s because it worked well. It worked well,
Because it is close to the true. So they are looking for a
theory that explains the human being, that explains Nature and that would be
somehow compatible with the vision – indeed – that they want to give of
the English society. And this research pass through Herbert Spencer. Interestingly
the theory of evolution initially is studied by someone who was not a scientist
naturalist, rather people committed to economical studies. At one point comes an idea
that – at the right eyes – appears immediately like the Columbus Egg.
That is the smart solution that adjusts everything. It happens that – around the 1858 – one of the biggest
naturalists of the time, Charles Darwin, receives a letter from a younger one
living in the far east, who says : “Look, I have an idea for the theory of
evolution and I submit it to you…” What was his name? Alfred Russel Wallace. So, the evolution
– let’s immediately say that -… The evolution is what happened during Earth history,
for which in different times there have been different life forms. Let’s clarify
that this fact is not put in doubt by nobody. Ok? What Darwin was looking for was
how that happened. So let’s keep well separated this two points.
Darwin is looking for the explanation to a fact proved by fossils. And what Wallace tells him? Wallace writes: “Look, I have an
idea. And you know how did I find it? Reading Malthus’ book”. Because he was convalescent
from a disease, He had to spend time in the bed, he gets in the hands
Malthus book, reads it and says: “See, you know what in this book?
It says that the weakers succumb …” So this is it, this is the bulk of
the theory of natural selection, For which if we have different features
within a population and we eliminate the more disadvantageous, in practice we may
keep the best for the actual situation and step by step what the population will do?
It will move toward that direction, therefore rewarding the fittest features.
What Darwin does? At the beginning a bit doubtful, afterwards he replies him,
he says: “Look, that’s a good idea, but I need to give you a bad news: I thought about it
before you! It has been years I work on it.” And the good Wallace says: “I take note of it:
what are we going to do?” Darwin: Let’s first make a presentation of the theory
in an article. Afterwards, it would come out the book – very famous
– “The origin of the species” that will deal more in detail of the theory, explaining
that anyway I had thought about it in advance.” So we arrived at the publication of
“The origin of the species” in 1859. Made with very advanced marketing instruments
new for the time It is a book that gets sold out in a day or two.
It has undergone a continental resonance. Engles himself will buy one of the first copies.
There was such a big expectation on this book that was built, that
Engels rush to buy it, afterwards he will write excited to Marx: “Look, a beautiful thing!”.
From which point of view! We have a book that – somehow – supports our historical vision
that is the materialistic vision. On this. After several years
there is a mail exchange between Marx and Engels in which Marx will conclude that
:“Look, this is an attempt to put in Nature the laws of
Victorian society”, that is the first who says that Darwin theory is a way to
put in nature the social laws of Victorian capitalism is Mr.
Karl Marx. Good. Who probably knew quite well about these things. He says this:
“To me the analysis is correct”, but what is the difference between him and the english authors?
While – let’s say – for the english establishment that was the justification
of conterporary society, that being Nature cannot change, Marx says: “No!
We start from this point, but to change, because for us the human being
has the potential to go over what nature, in theory would suggest”.
So there is the difference… the analysis is the same, other thing is the choice to confirm the
capitalistic, colonialistic model, on the other side is the choice to confirm,
that research to go over it. And there starts a fork. Second ingenious idea:
The idea is not usefoul if the english worker does not make his own. If it stays as an idea
of the ruling class we are at the same point. What was done than?… Wait, Wait. Sintetically let’s recapitulate
this idea, the theory of evolution from Darwin: which the hallmarks ? So, basically there is the natural selection
that eliminates the less suitable individuals keeping – indeed – those, on the contrary,
who fit more, more adapted to the environment. Therefore every situation in which we find competition
is a condition that will work on the long run for the best and victims are
inevitable. That is victims are the price to pay to have progress.
So you cannot oppose this mechanism. In the end what do we obtain? That those
who are at the social tip at the moment have an almost scientific legitimation.
Since the capitalst will result selected as a better fit compared to the worker. The english man will be better
than the indigenous from the colony, So you may justify racism. Wonderful,
even if afterwards they attempt to pass the idea that with Darwin we have fought racism.
There are entire books that want to explain Darwin theory was anti-racist
while historcally has supported quite massive genocids since it was
imposed to the english society of the colonies And that backwarded society could not be conserved
therefore intended to be overtaken. How could the worker drink
this bitter medicine?… Second ingenious idea… Second ingenious idea! Let’s fund a second
social party…. There was the communist party referring to Marx ideas,
but is born another socialist party, more moderate. A socialism that – already in the name that will get –
it says a lot. It was born the “Fabian Society”. Why “Fabian”? Who is this Fabio?
The connection was with: V° Fabius Maximus called the Temporizer. That roman general
who had choosen the strategy to face the enemy – being at the moment in inferior numbers –
simply to following him
never engaging in a frontal fight that he would have lost.
So the Fabian idea is in fact this: “We wil make the revolution, no worry: but not now,
it is too early”. And streangely enough in the fabians clubs – that have members who come
often from high social classes – In fabian clubs stars
to spread among the prolets to fight
the capitalistic system of the moment, but always waiting a bit, taking time.
so “temporizing”. for a final battle that would have never come. And the “Fabian
Society” over time gets more and more success and in England it is at the origin
of the british left. So the laburist are fabians. Practically this product
like that, a bit – let’s say – alterated, compared to the original one is
used to keep in check the working class promising a redemption that will never
arrive and slowly doing what? Including Darwinian ideas. Since the interesting thing
is that it would have not been according to the suggestion provided by Marx in his letter to Engels, but
on the contrary the idea of a society based on competition becomes acquired by
“Fabian Society”. It is not a starting point from which one may go further,
but it is accepted as such. Therefore it is created the political establishment that
propagandize Darwin’s theory – that at the end support the dominant class,
the capitalistic establishment of Britain – and in this way it acts as a container of
dissent, nowadays we would call it a “Gatekeeper”? Yes, it is defined by researchers of the time
– even on Geymonat, a great italian philosopher who came afterwards – a system,
a dissent hypnotis. It is somehow anesthetized the
protest in England and indeed the danger is avoided – let’s say -. And
they will be very good exporting it in other countries, As we know afterwards,
during the first world war The communist revolution will occur in Russia, but
not in England. Now, we can say immediately one thing: Darwin is evil in all this?
Darwin practically has nothing to do with this. Darwin was the right guy at the right time,
Indeed Darwin was not a great promoter of his theory.
Who diffused in all the world – Europe and United States – Darwin’s theory?
Other people. Thomas Huxley? He was also President of the “Royal
Society”. He was a high ranking member of british elites.
Let’s add another thing, an anticipation: So well settled that two nephews of him
will be relevant during ‘900. Not well known, as often happen.
They will be: Aldous Huxley – great writer main promoter
of the psychedelic revolution, That is of the diffusion of drugs at the time of
hippies – and Julian Huxley – great biologist and, what a chance, first President of UNESCO.
As soon as United Nations are born, after the second world war, Julian Huxley, the nephew of
Thomas, is the first President. Where he produce a programmatic document, I invite everybody to
go and look for it on the web, because you find it… only in english, basically
has to be seen in original language. There are few pages with an impressive program of
mass manipulation. That is, UNESCO that should have a cultural program, in reality
with Julian Huxley will became the instrument propaganda. And he says that clearly,
we should use methods of manipulation learned during the war, to do what?
To adfirm a world view that originates, indeed, from the facts
we are depicting today -. So Thomas Huxley will be the speaker – clearly not alone –
who will diffuse all over Europe this way of thinking. That is a new way
to see the human being in order to implant in people consciousness – And we realise it
also today – the idea that is almost inevitable that the world runs in this way. Basically obtaining resignation.
Therefore anyone – what happen afterwards? – when has issues, what can he do from that moment on?
He cannot anymore accuse the estabilishment, but has to accuse himself. Today who does not make it
“Was not able to make it”! “I did not make it”, “I was not good enough”. It is not
the society that could be different. Market mechanisms are saying that all the time
– no? -, Because afterall this mechanism, from people is extended at the market. “Competition
first of all”. “Competition is the best thing” all the time for everybody. If there are victims
when you apply competition: “It is Nature”. So what do you want to protest ? A model of success. But this model
that – as matter of fact – arise in the ‘800 has always been successful or since science
often deny its theories, substitute them with new ones, there has been
a discontinuous experience? So… I teach science
and in my school manuals I never found these episodes – anyway very relevant -.
This explains why at school is not treated science history – practice that instead
I strongy reccomend -, but just its achivements. Each time we are infront Science
achivements we stop asking how did we get there ! And since
“Science said that” it became the new dogma – there has never been stronger
dogma, even of any religion of “Science said that” – If I just study the endpoints
the game is over. If instead I study the history of science, we find that
before the end of 1800, “The origin of specie” is from 1859, already 10 years
after, Alfred Russel Wallace, co-author of the theory together with Darwin, writes something
deadly for the theory. he says: “I did not manage … to reconcile the theory
we presented with the actual human being” There are abilities of the human being,
the human brain, that cannot be evolved in the way we discussed. That is,
it is not beneficial to develop an advantage more usefoul than the immediate needs.
For example: In which way a primitive would have benefit
from the ability to perform differential calculus? Why superior mathematical capacities
would have been prized? He says: we may explain the evolution of every other
animal, but I cannot manage with human beings. With this theory we need to stop for a moment
and declare that there is something that is not really working”. We did not hear about Wallace
anymore basically! Well! They may say: “No, that’s not true!”. In reality
they told me several times to me: “It is not true!”. Yes, the experts know his
name, but at school he is not studied, there is no “Wallace day” as there is a “Darwin day”, at the end!
Honestly if we do not want to offend the nobody’s brain we need to admit that:
nobody is talking about him. Fine, after Wallace doubts
what happen? It happen that also others start to demonstrate that
the basis of the theory are not acceptable. At one point Darwin develops
a theoryad hocto demostrate how phenotypes develop this model is called “Pangenesis” Scientists carry out
experiments that demonstarte that it is not like that Weismann, cutting…
the famous experiment in which he cuts the tail to mice showing that it is growing always the same way:
“Phenotypic changes are not inheritable to following generations”. And overall
– the final grave to the theory will be put by Gregor Mendel who – by the way – from the same time
of Darwin was much less lucky of him. Why? His studies – although distributed all over Europe –
did not have the same success Mendel died unknown, but at the beginning
of the XX century two scientists – independently – trying to find a solution
to the problems in the Darwin’s theory – since now everybody had abandoned it -,
tried to undercover the meccanisms of transmission of changes from a generation to the other,
discovering, actually re-discovering Mendel’s laws, They need to say that by these laws
only already present characteristics may be transmitted. So Darwin’s theory has lost its basis
which is not selection but novelty Because if I select without novelty,
what would I do? I reduce. If I have a basket with apples and I select them what happen,
I get less and less apples. The do not increase! I will find other things in my basket if when i remove something,
they put something else, At the end step by step I will find pears
or even pomegranates at the end but if I remove without putting in things
at th e end it is over. So at the beginning of ‘900 it starts what is called in science history as
The ” darwinian eclipse “. Why? Because none can anymore accept it. And again
we do not find trace about this story in the school programs. I am focused on teaching,
but it is understandable that if I do not teach something it is difficult that it will pass in real life
in the common sense. Darwin, is guilty of nothing, he is
simply the right man at the right moment He is comfortable, why? Because he
inspires benevolence, with his peacefoul face, good look, so he works very
well. He is never described like someone who made something wrong. In our books,
in the discussions we hear, he is presented as the father of a theory that was born
basically almost perfect, a theory that needed some minor
adjustment on the path. Indeed, up to mid ‘900, this theory, as proved by
the mail exchange of great authors like the matematician Guido
Volterra and his friend biologist Umberto D’Ancona who said: “Darwin’s theory
today is not taken seriously by anyone” May be in England – he said
– may be in England for patriotism, but actually at this point
nobody doubts of evolution, but nobody as well believes that Darwin has provided a correct
explanation of it. So what would have been necessary? A rifondation of the theory. Event that will occur.
And indeed a big name involved in this rifondation was already here presented:
Julian Sorell Huxley. The nephew of Thomas Huxley, who, putting all together
various contributions of other big of Science elaborated in the preceding decades –
launches the syntesis of the modern revolution. Since that moment will be implemented
the idea that the “novelties” that will bring new species, are indeed a result of casual mutations.
Considering that Darwin could not have the concept of mutations, There had been the discovery of radioactivity,
it was already accepted that chemical reactions could trigger mutations, therefore this idea
became accepted. Random changes that now are inheritable, so – compatible
with Mendel – over time give rise to new species. And this is – with some little variation –
the theory that is still valid today a theory that – indeed -, still, maintains “frames” – let’s use a term quite familiar nowadays –
of a society that must be competitive and
any attempt to rule it would result in a failure. In which period are we? We are in the mid 40s. Still has to
conclude the second world war. And comes out this book. With Britain and United States
victorious after the war, the theory can spread in the largest manner.
In the same way as Rock & Roll or Beatles did – culturally speaking
– It was easy to diffuse such an So inevitably the Western world
has acquired this revision of the original theory, where
again natural selection continues to to have a role. And more with the support
even stronger, which is the case. Then still this effort to govern the changes
it clashes, is little to do with power case and selection. It is so true
which, the great name of the Nobel Prize Jacques Monod will publish – in the mid-60s – “Chance and Necessity,
“a book I hope many will resume, because it has signed the times
and it is a book that connects in the most obvious way the theory of evolution and society.
Because all the second part of his book talks about human being, of this human
being that now finds himself in a cold cosmos, indifferent to its destiny, which is defined
only – precisely – by blind competition. And come out – in fact – theories of eugenics.
Because in a world like that, let’s say the sick is a problem, and Mond explicitly says :”
Anyone may have the courage to state that sick people, probably should not
be curated beyond a certain limit? Because over time the specie weakens!” Then
we have a strong revival of the vision that had been – precisely – Malthusian of society
19th century English, during that period. But it is a partially Nazi view! Yes, but they will clearly say that – in short
– this is a bad thing. It is absolutely taken by Nazism – here too – they play a lot
to create confusion. They say, “It could not generate
Nazism. No! Nazism is sinking roots and it acquires these ideas. ”
There are some very interesting stories of World War I reported by Stephen
Jay Gould – a great evolutionist a source above any suspicion
– where he collects the writings in which, during the First World War, there were some
authors who said they had heard German generals using the concept of
natural selection, saying that the war eventually – and let’s think about futurism, right? – What is
the only great hygiene of humanity: the war! So these ideas spread so much
and they really become the humus in which – wanting or unwilling – people grow up. Starting
from high classes. So clearly the State of Germany, a sinking sate, that was
was strongly influenced by Darwinism because we had Haeckel, great German biologist
strongly darwinist and strongly committed – he too – socially. Who
gives a view strongly social of the Darwinism he proposes. In that
Germany is natural to grow a fruit like that. So the Nazi eugenics,
the Aktion T4 program and the race idea superior which also belonged to the English
because something hidden is that the eugenics programs
, with suppression and sterilization of the disabled, rather than called the “Weak
of mind,” was very advanced in the US. In the United States there were thousands
of sterilized people because judged “weak of mind” and so they would
contaminated American society. And yet – clearly – the spotlight was turned on
only on Nazi practices, but this way of thinking was in power through all
the Anglo-Saxon and Germanic areas. So Nazism will surely draw full hands
from this thought. Clearly the statement “Darwin originates Nazism” is one
convenient thing that only serves – let’s say in Rome – to kick it in “caciara” and not
to face the real problems. So this thought has structured a lot. And today
it re-emerges a bit reworked, but it is always the same. A very important name, late years
’90 we have “The William Left,” a book of the well-known philosopher Peter Singer who says this:
“So far, yes, there has been some problem in applying Darwinism to society
because – in fact – Darwinism is the only answer because it is the only science that
tells us what man is. “- in quotation marks an “animal” -. “And if so far
we got something wrong why the theory was not sufficiently optimized,
it still had some points to clarify. But today we have enough knowledge to say
who is man. ” This is something that is huge, that is, really … – no? – it’s upsetting.
What? Human being was not that thing imponderable – no? – of which philosophers,
literates, artists, talk about? All this becomes secondary. What Man is comes from
biology. Then Peter Singer says, “Right now we know enough. ” What does Singer do?
We may easily see this: again eugenics, infantile euthanasia
, every kind of thing…. Why? Because society should be based on
Darwinian roots. So the thought is reproposed, readapted at the time. And what is the problem?
By now – after all this time – people, even those of low culture, if they have internalized
one thing is the basic idea of Darwinism. Up to the level to get the song that wins Sanremo
Festival that talks about the evolution of man from the monkey – that happened,
but not in that way -. And in any case the idea that fundamentally Man is an
ape without hair, with some small difference, but subjected to the same identical laws
of animals. This has a scientific contrast today? Yes! From big names. The very latest
study is a couple of years ago – I think -: Noam Chomsky, left, progressive, a name – in short
– very great to tell us there are some features in human being that
are not present not even at an early stage in other animals, namely language,
logic, symbolism. So why to pass the message that we are absolutely
“That thing there,” is also scientifically misleading and wrong, but clearly does
play creating an anthropology that will be that of a day to day consumer. “You
you are a bit dejected, after all, your feeling special is an illusion that you, yourself
have built, therefore, consume! Do not get big ideas of elevation – those,
at the end, were only usefoul to our ancestors, to seek comfort from the
hardness of life. Just be what you are meant to be: a
biological entity in a competitive system that at best may ask
to be part, as a gear, of a meaningless machine,
in which at the end you live day by day. The part I really care about is how this
theory, developed, as we have seen, over the years and centuries, has served as a
foundation within the wider frame that takes the name of neoliberalism.
How does it justify it? Well! An article released a few years ago
that I cited in my first book says, “One day Darwin will be remembered
as the greatest economist in history” Liberism, the idea of a free
market, perfectly takes the idea of this competition from which originates
not just the best possible, but indeed the only outcome. That is, forget the idea
that there may be any direction to follow So it is clear that the capital,
now truly dematerialized from the liquid contemporary society connects well with
this idea. Because it’s the ultimate freedom of action. What are they saying? Politics
today does not tell us anymore that operates for the individual, for the human being. Politics –
the phrase we all heard very often – “should not dissatisfy the
Markets”. Because should never happen the capitals flee! So – you know – I’m taking away your
pension, I cut your salary, else the capital escapes. That has become
my real master, that is, he is no longer the the people who has elected the master,
but the capital… … and as the capital responds
to the market law, to the laws of nature, competition between the various
animal species for survival or for the consumption of resources is somehow
a good and just or inevitable thing to occur. Unavoidable! Exact! If you really cannot
accept it as the best solution take it as inevitable, that is, you can only delay it,
eventually you’ll crash on it. Because nature works like that. And this mechanism
is internalized and occurs such an anthropological mutation for which, as Aldous Huxley
said: “After all, the best of dictatorships is the one where you do not realize you are in. ”
It is the one in which you are convinced that really this is the best solution for you
and it works very well Of course, what may be interesting,
illuminating a bit these nodes and verifyng them since the material is there.
An interesting thing to say is that This is not just an opinion, take,
go and look – on Wikipedia if you want -, there are books and books. Simply, if those
paths are not taken, it is like they are not there. But they let you throw
a different light and understand these facts Also there we have natural selection:
books more suitable to the system survive spread. Which means the others
are not suitable. Knowledge cannot adjust – in the end – to adhere to the interests of
the fews in comparison to those of the many. Of course! Indeed, in this case we can talk about
artificial selection, that is, what breeders do, studied by Darwin.
Darwin’s theory deeply matured studying pigeon farms, right?
– so he saw that the breeder applied a selection and slowly got changes.
Now, these changes – it has been shown – may never transform a pigeon in to an eagle,
or even less in to a dog, but this was the principle. So in this case the artificial selection
is succefully performed, because if it is not brought to the attention,
also in a school project one aspect of reality, it is like those games in which hiding
half of the drawing I see a figure, though if I unhide the other half of the drawing I see
another one. So you draw a figure which everyone accepts as real, indisputable
and the more time passes and the more indisputable it becomes. Because if there is one thing that causes reactions
really visceral in some people is go to question arguments like these. But is there, in this context, a biology
dissenting, which does not consider demonstrated Darwin’s theory? To what extent is it widespread? So whoever has tried it
had quite bad time, usually. And we talk about big ones In the middle of the XX century
Schindewolf … and other names, but let’s go to one closer to us: Sermonti. At one
point Sermonti and Fondi, one geneticist, the other paleontologist – towards the end of the ’70s
if I am right – published a book in which was said that: “Darwin’s theory,
Neo-Darwinism, indeed, the one that has been promoted since mid-century, is not
satisfactory, does not explain evolution. ” If we want, maybe it was a kind of
Anglo-Saxon cultural invasion. In the ’70s maybe there is still someone
a bit critical of what’s coming. Well, do you remember the academic “fortune”
of Wallace? Here the same – between quotes – “luck” will hit Sermonti
and Fondi. Because one of the greatest geneticists of the time, from that moment,
disappears. His intellectual, scientific life dies with that book. Now
I would like to say: if I were a young university student and I wanted to make a career, frankly
I would stay a bit far from these topics. “Hit one to educate hundreds” in that case
worked just fine. Is there anyone today who argues? Well! Clearly there are
the “Usefoul Enemies”. What are the “Usefoul Enemies?” Those who are so unpresentable
that for the sake of difference make you win. That is, if I “want to win easy” – like
advertising said – I put an enemy so much weaker, so unwatchable that those who look at us
will say, “Definitely the other one is right!” And so somehow real
antitetic positions are let grown like the American Creationism that has very often – not always
I have to say – but very often has arguments, I believe weak: they often deny actual evolution
not just the neo-Darwinist explanation of the fact. So it’s clear that if I do a debate
public in which I take one who denies that there have been dinosaurs, I have already won.
So these are the enemies of convenience. Enemies … Who paradoxically may be also amplified
on purpose in order to obtain… Absolutely yes! Absolutely yes! they get
great emphasis in debates. Chomsky himself timidly, but because even him, although
having “big shoulders”, must be careful to touch some things …Chomsky
himself has published this study I was talking about, in association with other seven
big names. So – how to say – “Let’s set up a testudo” and either attacks us all seven,
or – in short – you need to rough out for this. We have other personalities.
There had been attempts by Palmarini Piattelli with “Darwin’s mistakes” on occasion
of Darwinian celebrations. He is also a linguist. Strange that who is critical, indeed
deals with the study of language a feature strictly human. Palmarini, is
another very great name slaughtered by media and – in short – he had
his own pretty problems … But is there an alternative theory
to the Darwin’s one, or simply the excheptions are limited to point out
that Darwin’s theory does not explain the facts? So, by the way, already saying that the theory
does not explain the evidences is very important! One of the major objections that is being made
is: if there is no alternative theory we hold this one. And I reply, that a
machine without engine is useless to keep, it wouldn’t go anywhere anyway.
So this would already be enough as an argument. And indeed, there are very often examples
in the history of science born in this way… In front of “This theory does not show” …
should we look for something else? As an example an historical reference: when
Ernest Rutherford in 1911 had made his own atomic model, it was immediately apparent that
his model in some ways worked out, but for others did not. It was not held for
good waiting for the next one to come! It was said that it did not do well and thanks to this
awareness it was found a satisfactory model a few years later, with the great Niels
Bohr. Now, I think this: that if it was said on time that the theory is unsatisfactory,
we would have devoted many resources and minds very brilliant to look for something else.
So – basically – this will to safe-lock the theory has hurt enormously
Science itself, because it has framed it in a theory not satisfactory and therefore has
prevented researchers to look for something else. Because Bohr’s theory on the atom was
upsetting for the era. Introduced concepts which were really new and hard
acceptable. Maybe we could have this. I can give you an anticipation on
something that also affects us very directly and it’s moving right now.
The group with whom I work – with this little entity called
” Critica Scientifica “, born indeed as critical of the claims of science
used in an instrumental manner – just inside of this group was born a proposal that
has overtaken what was the objection – that I can understand – in these years. That is:
your arguments may be as convincing as you want, but as long as your idea does not come
approved, published, in a scientific journal international, it still remains the opinion of a
private citizen. Therefore since we publish papers on scientific journals, we do not even
want to discuss it. Good. That’s right a few months ago a very young author of the site,
Achilles Damascus, a very young physicist, publishes – among other things at
his age, virtually was never seen – on an international magazine not of biology
but of physics, a theory, called “Theory of the evolutionary resonances” in which the
natural selection is totally rendered useless. A blasfemy for everything
that we have seen so far. Claimimg that natural selection has no
role in the evolution of the species is really the foundation of the end of Darwinian theory.
This theory, which I’m not here to expose in detail, but there are some
popular exibitions, including videos made by Achilles Damascus and the other author who
has supported him in this enterprise, Alessandro Giuliani, first researcher at the
Istituto Superiore di Sanità. And this theory has – right yesterday, these days we are at the end of
September – received a sharp critic by the Italian Society of Evolutionist Biology
with the lead of the philosopher Telmo Pievani, who had already attacked in the past
the positions of “Scientific Criticism” – specifically mine – but this time,
in front of a scientific study, what do they say? “Well! Sometimes also scientific studies
are fake! ” For which we totally agree. But bizarre to hear this
from someone who until the other day was saying: “Mah! You say these things, but you
did not published! “Now that the job is published, occurs a smashed
from the belly – you can read about it on “Focus” – to which surely there will be answers
both at the scientific level, researchers will proceed their way,
and at a slightly different level of communication, at a more generic cultural level
I will be able to take care of it personally. However, this is the demonstration that if you
abandon that blocking paradigm, ideas can come. So this objection: “There is not
an alternative” is placed after having closed every road to alternatives. Because
if you dare to go out of dualism random mutation / natural selection, you are
out of the road. You are not accepted. You can only add other factors, there you are free,
so you can reach “Evo-devo”, you can add the “dotted equilibria”,
but all this without touching these two cornerstones, which are the ones on which it is based, then – precisely
– the social vision, as reminded us – indeed Jaques Monod and all the other authors
Peter Singer who eventually connected that theory in society. So, when I went to school – and I did
schools at an age where still … perhaps the school gave, contributed
to develop a certain self-awareness, a critical sense in its students – I remember that one of the descriptions
which is more appropriate for science is that science is based on doubt – no? -, which
a bit also recalls the old “Cogito ergo sum “. I doubt something and so
doubting I am always forced to prove it, I question it. That is something that
also applies in psychology: if I always put myself in dispute avoiding having prejudices,
wrong beliefs and then my personality avoids being deformed. Today
who doubts is an heretic! And I suspect that in science have
much more weight personal dynamics, deformations, personal interests, the
human weaknesses, human fragility, desire to keep chairs, places, the will of
be part of the system rather than research of the truth. You see? When it comes to science,
we talk about a method that has been consolidating over time, but when it comes to evidence
and scientific results, one has to ask all the time who granted that
who financially supported that and if this is done exclusively for scientific aims or
for other reasons that have nothing to do with science. So, yes, of course the word “Science”
has a power that is obviously comfortable. Because we notice that when we want
to pass a message without discussion, if we manage in making it go in shape:
“Science says it”, more or less the game is won. Because if you … raise doubts as those
we talked about, you are placed among the unqualified ones. You place yourself among the rude
negationists and so on…. “Science says it” is the equivalent
– until a few years ago – of “It’s asked by Europe!” Sure! No, but it’s just a derivation I think.
What does Europe asks us? What the “economic sciences” – so would they say
– impose us, so Europe asks us what economic science
showed, so you can not avoid to adapt. That’s right, we see it all
fields. The doubt is always lawful to have it rightly as you remembered at the base
– basically – of all scientific knowledge which would undoubtedly be stopped at the very first
discovered, so I do not doubt and I stop there. It is clear that the doubt must be
an informed doubt, must be a question starting with someone who has – in some
way – tackled and knows the subject. However, this mechanism does not work. This denial of dissent is very strong.
We see it in so many other fields. There are some names. For example, we also talk about
climate change: there is always 97% of scholars says that climate change
is man’s fault. In fact, these statistics too – for who went to take the
bother to study them – are built in a very artificial way. What is
presented as a “scientific certainty” too often are mathematical models. A
Mathematical model is simply a formula that someone thinks and proposes as an explanation
of a phenomenon. Of course it is a conclusion – no? – based on a phenomenon, but we should
never confuse a formula that represents reality with the actual reality. All researchers
know very well that in a mathematical model, if I have two or three free parameters, I can
say anything I want. I mean, I can really fly donkeys with a mathematical model
that gives me two or three parameters in free choice. And very often the “truth”
– between quotation marks – are generated by constructions of this type. Because in reality the real
basis of science is – we take the opportunity to give an important point of note
– … was given by Karl Popper. In this sense, “It is necessary a criterion of falsification”.
What does it mean? It means statement – to be scientific – I do not just have to test it,
that is to say, “If I am right this will happen…” That is just a step. Much more
important to say, “I describe you that experiment, that if performed succesfully I am wrong to deny
your model” I challenge anyone – has been years I have done that and I have not found him yet – to tell me what it is
that discovery that we may do, to demonstrate that neo-darwinism is wrong. What is that discovery that,
if we transport to the economy, where we want, that system proves to be wrong. Well!
The non-scientificity of these systems emerges very easily and clearly from these aspects.
There is nothing that when found, may prove false Neo-Darwinian theory.
So it’s not science, but it’s a complicated – even in some fascinating ways – construct
of thought, is a representation of the reality, but ultimately it is what the ancients
called a “Myth”. Because it is an affirmation strong, but today with the current situation that
explanation of the world of events is little more than a very modern myth. Full of figures,
full of things also interesting, surely many true statements, but it is not falsifiable,
therefore it is not scientific according to the function of Popper and did not allow predictions. He has not
allowed – whatever you say – applications practices. It did not allow technological achievements
particulars, did not allow to produce either for bacteria significant evolutions if
not very small. Micro-evolution, we all agree that exists, all those little
changes that can happen we all agree and above all – well! –
all these things do not provide a criterion of falsehood. So it is unassailable. But … it’s very functional in the system
in which we live. Very much! Like it was from the beginning
and here the natural selection is very interesting as it has affirmed. As
that system has affirmed – let’s say – all over the world, so that same reading
followed the same fate. So it worked wherever it went to propose the same system.
Until it became a global system. That is, that that we now find that globalization
is the expansion of those principles we talked, born, and still developed
in England in the nineteenth century, brought to extreme consequences and imposed to the world. So much that
if there is – let’s go out of topic for a moment – any culture, any country that does not accept
the free market rules, it become a state … … rogue … … rogue! Yup! Basically it is not
an acceptable alternative. And … it is backwards – very dangerous term – … when
I heard, “I’m back,” here it is be careful that they are rubbing!
Because we do not accept the difference etymologically means “different”, means that we all bring about something that can be different that are assets to put
together. This, in the end, is the vision that had the Romans. The various provinces kept theirs
customs, kept their Gods. The neo-imperialist vision, is instead the negation
of value of the differences. That become diversity, Which means “things that bring a distance” and
therefore are, from an evolutionist point of view “backwarded” something less perfected. That,
in a natural selection perspective, in one comparison with the Western world before or
then – with the good or not with the good ones – will have to change, succumb. And that explains many
mechanisms that regulate – precisely – the relations between States. But then – in fact – the differences are
an asset and I believe it also comes out from Darwin’s theory reading. Because,
if we take it for good it is indeed for to the micro-differences or the big
differences that a species manages to develop over time – even in a casual manner – that,
to the changing of environmental conditions the best differences are those that become … that
become part of the features of the species, that is, they are adopted.
If the climate changes and an ice age arrives And there was not someone who had developed
a different respiratory system such as it may not disperse heat, probably that specie
– according to Darwin’s theory – would disappear. So differences are an asset. They should
be considered as such and nobody understands why in a system of values that takes
Darwin’s theory as an example assets, that is, the differences among individuals
and differences of thought do not come, instead valued, but ostracized, excluded. Yes … because it is the competition that prevents it.
Because the enhancement of differences would involve cooperation. That – attention
– this is also not denied by the neo-Darwinists. When I said, there is everything, why
is not New-Darwinism refuted? Because there are in it all the arguments
also those contraddictory. So what do you want to do whatever you say have already been said
by them eventually. And then … the competition is the one that eventually is selected,
so cultural differences, if they were seen in a cooperation perspective – like
you said – would be an advantage for everyone. But when the only optic is
instead the competition, there is no place for both. It’s like western duels … that is … Now, let me ask you a final question.
Let’s tell you as a biologist. I’ve read a few recently we are composed
from about seventy thousand billions of cells – more cell, less cell
makes no difference? – of which at least half and perhaps even a little more than that would not be
human cells, but bacteria. Ok? This and what I read, then … I do not know: you’ll tell me
whether it is trusted or not. But, beyond percentages and numbers, there is a form
of cooperation, collaboration? In biology that banally makes it possible as well
this conversation, in the sense that we are composed of cooperating cells. And when
stop cooperating, haimé! We’re leaving to inflame the lists … we go to fix
the problem of work of funerary entreprise. In your opinion in nature, what is the winning model?
The competition – the party that compete species for resources – or cooperation,
the collaboration – which is the part that structure life in increasingly complex forms, though
it is based on cooperation between organisms also within the same body,
of the same body -. Mah! Clearly cooperation is that
which allows the most important things. We have just remembered: an organism. Already with this
term we remembered if the cells they do not work coordinated with each other, that reality
is not possible. So companies are probably the organisms. The bacteria for
us are symbionts, that is, if we did not have the intestinal bacterial flora we would feel bad,
so much so that when you take antibiotics to restore bacteria usefoul eliminated
you must taken products – precisely – to restore them. The competition
it has a very marginal role in these mechanisms. Very often, in nature what does it do? Stabilizes
perhaps the population to what already was. Tendentially eliminates those who deviate
much from the main features. I would like to add another thing that came to me
in mind thinking of this. But even from the point from the perspective of the economy, in fact the cooperation
would be much more advantageous than the competition. This would emerge from those studies of that
Nobel who goes under the name of John Nash who, with its Theory of Games, at the very end
he passed for someone who promoted the competition. And for this he is more or less known.
But the competition is only awarded in a society that does not accept trust. Because
according to Theory of Games, there is, the famous “Prisoner Dilemma”, in which
they say, “Look, your companion has confessed. If you confess you take half
of the penalty, if you do not confess you take the whole punishment, though if I’m lying and you
and your partner did not confess both of you get out. “Then, according to the
game theory the most rational thing to do is confess, that is to betray your own
comrade because between the maximum punishment and zero, I can be sure not to take
the maximum. But that is the most convenient thing? No, that’s not the best choice.
The most convenient choice would be for me that my partner and I would collaborate. And these are
the economic theories of today. That is, you choose the competition because, in accordance with “Homo
homini lupus “I do not trust you! And when I do not trust you, obviously
I do not create a collaborative, cooperative core, I do not create a social value, a social core
homogeneus that may defend its own interests. And then we return to the discourse of the origins,
ie who is functional to this exaltation of the competition. Which among other things also
other very famous authors, even in other fields have questioned. I was
in Milan a couple of years ago and there was John Negroponte – you will know John Negroponte
– he said clearly that the competition was the root of all the evils also in the
school system. He said that in this conference very interesting: “Stop testing”, there is
also a video on Byoblu. “Stop testing”, “Stop examining children,
stop putting them in competition one another through a mechanism of votes.
Teach them to collaborate From a scholastic point of view … then: the
competition understood in that way I … though if a healthy emulation would be nice, instead:
this is the point. Here’s the competition it hurts because it creates frustrations on the one hand
and on the other also creates personality with a little bit of omnipotence, right? But, indicate an alternative.
Are you comrades? There is emulation. “That one is better than me? Well let’s see how he manages it!”
When I meet someone who is better than me to do anything,
I do not want to feel competitive and frustrated because it does it better than me, that is … Byoblu
he manages to make some beautiful videos that I do I can not do. It is not that I meet you now
I feel like … if I kill Messora I come up! No! I like, I want to understand, I want to
improve and so this should happen in schools, precisely. The competition, on the other hand
instilled in that way then becomes exactly another of those things you acquired, that you
bring in the world of work. So I do not have my colleague with whom
let’s see if we can do the best things together, but that’s what I should have
the best results then hide my my progress, I do not teach how to do
things. This … but I meet so many people in the big industries, in the
big realities: you go in one place and no one teaches you anything. Everyone keeps tight
the things he knows ! For fear that you will become good as well as maybe more than him. And so this
competition is bad! It’s so bad that even the idea that it will eventually be functional
to economic systems, it is really wrong. So the earlier we free from it, the earlier we get
better, as humans that is the most important thing and then we realize that it is good
even for all the rest. Starting from school. Enzo Pennetta, thank you for being on Byoblu.com.
And who wants to deepen your ideas like biologist can read something about you, you have
written some books? Yes! I … in 2011 “Darwinism Inquiry”,
with which this adventure began that, just for – say – the repercussions
strong and unexpected they have given the confirmation that we touched something
sensitive, important, followed by … last year “The last man” that
is tackling the same themes, but with a more focused eye on social aspects,
so – let’s say – more accessible to an audience less specialized, in short, much more generic.
Then, every day virtually on the site “Criticism Scientific “www.enzopennetta.it we publish
articles of various kinds, but just because We tie science with society, with the
politics, with the market then we will find topics that seem unconnected
but that are very close to each other following more closely the news. So who
wants to accompany us, these are the references. Well, thank you very much for being here, too
because every interview I do is really a way to open the mind – this in particular
-. I remember everyone who wants to discuss it of these themes and of all the themes they deal with
the blog can subscribe to the Telegram channel, the references are at the bottom of the description
and there is also a group with thousands of people discussing, big type “chattona”,
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to you, to readers who follow and follow them with passion and who commit themselves to donate,
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even in this case you find in the description the links to participate! Thank you Enzo! Thank you! See you next time!