Cranks Without Power

Mr. Hume:  I saw your post about John West’s ISI article “Darwin, Scientism, and the Misguided Quest for Darwinian conservatism” just as I finished reading the two new biographies of Galileo. (For review in the New Criterion. The biographies are here and here.  The reason for there being new biographies this year is that it’s the 400th anniversary of the publication of The Starry Messenger — which, incredibly it seems to me, is not on

Well, reading West after spending a week in Counter-Reformation Italy, I am just very glad that nitwits of that particular strain no longer have any power center in Western society. I’ve met West — debated him, in fact — and found him a monomaniacal crank of the less interesting sort.

We shouldn’t be smug, though. Authoritarian power centers with the ability to stifle dissent from orthodoxy are not exactly unusual in human affairs. Magna est veritas et praevalebit, but sometimes it takes a century or two.

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