Icon to promote history of science blogs

use it!

If you have a history of science blog & want to promote others – or some other blog and you like to read history of science blogs – please use the above image in your sidebar and link it to the Big List.

I would very much appreciate it!

New Blog: Exploring Portland’s Natural Areas

I just realized that I should inform my readers of a new blog I started a few days ago: Exploring Portland’s Natural Areas. I will use this blog to post about Patrick and my explorations of places in and around Portland, and to share information regarding nature, science education, and getting kids outside!

A few of the posts so far:

Introductory post for Exploring Portland’s Natural Areas
Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge
A thought

Giant’s Shoulders #28 is out, looks at visuals & representations in science

The caricature by De la Beche of Charles Lyell as Prof. Ichthyosaurus on the pages of Francis Buckland's "Curiosities of Natural History" (1858).

Via here here or here:

Jai Virdi has posted her special edition of Giants’ Shoulders ‘Visuals & Representations’at From the Hands of Quacks and a wonderful collection of  history of science eye candy is waiting for your perusal, so put on the reading glasses and pop on over.

The 29th edition of Giants’ Shoulders will be hosted by Egil Asprem at Heterodoxology on 16th of November and is a ‘Esoteric Science’ special.

To the layman, the natural sciences have become increasingly “esoteric” in the sense of being hard to access and difficult to understand. Throughout its history, science has been esoteric in other senses as well, connected with attempts to unravel the secrets of the book of nature, the understanding of occult properties and forces, and the quest for absolute, higher knowledge. This edition of Giants’ Shoulders is dedicated to all those esoteric pursuits of knowledge; a celebration of all strange, alien, and counterintuitive methods that have been attempted to dissect, read, or tame nature’s secrets, from renaissance natural philosophy to present-day Grand Unified Theories – whether cleverly inventive, hopelessly megalomaniac, or simply misguided.

Post should be submitted by 15th of November either directly to the host or to the Giants’ shoulders Blog Carnival.

Guest Post – Defending the Sensible: Charles Darwin and the Anti-Vivisection Controversy

This guest post by Eric Michael Johnson is part of his Primate Diaries in Exile blog tour. Johnson is a PhD student in the history of evolutionary biology at UBC (he received his masters degree in primate behavior). You can follow other stops on his tour through his RSS feed, The Primate Diaries on Facebook, or by following him on Twitter.

His critics accused him of claiming that “Might is Right,” but did the founder of modern biology campaign to defend the least among us?

A physiological demonstration with vivisection of a dog.
Oil painting by Emile-Edouard Mouchy, 1832. (Wellcome Library, London.)


According to the British Medical Journal it resembled a crucifixion. The dogs were strapped to boards, backs down, and with their legs cinched outwards. In the stifling August heat their heavy panting was made only more intense by a suffocating fear. The accused was described as wearing a white apron “that was afterwards covered with blood” as he approached one of the struggling animals. His mouth was tied shut but when the blade entered the thin, pink flesh of his inner thigh the animal’s cries of agony were too much to bear.

Experienced medical men in attendance, including some of the nineteenth century’s top surgeons, were outraged and demanded that the animal’s torture cease. Thomas Joliffe Tufnell, President of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, denounced the demonstration as a “cruel proceeding” and stormed to the operating table to cut the animal loose. Other physiologists objected to the interruption with one insisting, “That dog is insensible; he is not suffering anything.” But Tufnell held firm, “The dog is struggling hard to get free. I am a sportsman as well as a surgeon, and I will never see a dog bullied.” However, a vote was taken among the assembled members of the British Medical Association and the demonstration was allowed to continue.

A tube was then forced into the conscious animal’s femoral artery, the white hair of his belly stained red as the arterial pressure caused blood to spurt from the incision. Into the tube the accused injected pure alcohol. The result, continued the Journal, “was an immediate struggle, which almost immediately subsided. The animal became dead drunk.”

“Now, you see he’s insensible,” a physician snidely remarked to Tufnell.
“Yes,” Tufnell replied, “and he’ll never be sensible again, for he will die.”

Spattered with gore from the comatose animal, the accused, Dr. Eugene Magnan of Paris, insisted he would be quite well by that evening. The dog soon died. Magnan then turned to the second animal, opening the same artery as before but injecting absinthe into the wound. According to witnesses:

The animal struggled much, cried as far as it was able, showed other symptoms of great suffering, and ultimately–not long after the injection–had a fit of epilepsy.

This had been the point of Magnan’s August 13, 1874 demonstration: the physiological effects of alcohol and absinthe on the animal nervous system. It had been made possible by four physicians based in Norwich, England, all of whom now stood trial for actions taken that did “unlawfully illtreat, abuse, and torture certain animals.” Dr. Eugene Magnan, also listed as a defendant, was not present in the courtroom since he had fled the country back to France. Because it could not be proven that the four English physicians had been actively involved in the demonstration the charges were ultimately dismissed, though the court ruled that the case against them was proper and required them to pay all legal costs. However, in the court of public opinion they were guilty as charged.

Animal experimentation, or vivisection as it was known in the nineteenth century, had already been practiced for centuries (William Harvey’s famous dissections of deer in the 1620s had revealed the heart’s role in the circulatory system) but with the rise of scientific medicine more animal subjects were being “put to the blade” in the name of science. The physician George Hoggan described his own experience taking part in some of these dissections with dogs:

Hundreds of times I have seen when an animal writhed in pain, and thereby deranged the tissues, during a deliberate dissection; instead of being soothed, it would receive a slap and an angry order to be quiet and behave itself. . . Even when roughly grasped and thrown on the torture-trough, a low, complaining whine at such treatment would be all the protest made, and they would continue to lick the hand which bound them till their mouths were fixed in the gag.

Charles Darwin was well aware that these kinds of experiments took place, even using a similar example in his 1871 book The Descent of Man:

[E]veryone has heard of the dog suffering under vivisection who licked the hand of the operator; this man, unless he had a heart of stone, must have felt remorse to the last hour of his life.

As one of the most celebrated biologists in England Darwin was both a supporter of experimental physiology and was passionate about protecting animals from cruelty. As a local magistrate he regularly came across cases of cruelty to farm animals and, according to his biographer Janet Browne, “was inexorable in imposing fines and punishment.” In 1853 he waged a “private vendetta” against a Mr. Ainslie for cruelty to his carthorses, threatening to “have him up before a magistrate & his ploughman also.” According to his son, Francis Darwin, the man who many saw as advocating “might is right” was as disgusted by animal cruelty as he was by the human cruelty he experienced in slave holding societies:

The remembrance of screams, or other sounds heard in Brazil, when he was powerless to interfere with what he believed to be the torture of a slave, haunted him for years, especially at night. In smaller matters, where he could interfere, he did so vigorously. He returned one day from his walk pale and faint from having seen a horse ill-used, and from the agitation of violently remonstrating with the man. On another occasion he saw a horse-breaker teaching his son to ride, the little boy was frightened and the man was rough; my father stopped, and jumping out of the carriage reproved the man in no measured terms.

This sympathy extended to animals used in experimentation, as Darwin wrote to the Oxford zoologist Ray Lankester in 1871:

You ask about my opinion on vivisection. I quite agree that it is justifiable for real investigations on physiology; but not for mere damnable and detestable curiosity. It is a subject which makes me sick with horror, so I will not say another word about it, else I shall not sleep to-night.

However, Darwin did not take his own advice and, after the media uproar following Magnan’s demonstration and the ensuing court case, the notoriously reclusive naturalist spearheaded a campaign to regulate how vivisection was conducted in England.

Charles Darwin at his estate in Down, 1875. (H.P. Robinson/Bettmann/Corbis)


The year 1875 was a milestone for British animal rights activism. Building off the popular outrage over Magnan, the author, feminist, and animal rights campaigner Frances Power Cobbe formed the Society for the Protection of Animals Liable to Vivisection (and, later, the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, which continues to this day). With the assistance of sympathetic members of Parliament, Cobbe drafted a bill that would require regular inspections of physiological labs engaged in vivisection. Darwin heard of this activity through his daughter, Henrietta Litchfield, who was passionate about animal rights and had sent her father Cobbe’s petition to sign. Her letter had Darwin contemplating the issue “for some hours” and he delivered a considered and thoughtful response:

I conclude, if (as is likely) some experiments have been tried too often, or anesthetics have not been used when they could have been, the cure must be in the improvement of humanitarian feelings. Under this point of view I have rejoiced at the present agitation.

However, despite his conflicts over vivisection, Darwin’s opinion of the bill was that it would do little to protect animals and, at the same time, would result in a chilling effect on science:

[I]f such laws are passed, the result will assuredly be that physiology, which has been until within the last few years at a standstill in England, will languish or quite cease. . . I cannot at present see my way to sign any petition, without hearing what physiologists thought would be its effect, and then judging for myself.

Four months later Darwin, who rarely took any active role in politics, was in the midst of a political campaign to introduce his own bill to Parliament. As he wrote to his close friend Joseph Hooker, then-President of the Royal Society, “I worked all the time in London on the vivisection question . . . The object is to protect animals, and at the same time not to injure Physiology,” and he had already enlisted the support of “some half-dozen eminent scientific men.”

While the interest in protecting the scientific enterprise was an important aspect of what became known as the Playfair bill (after Dr. Lyon Playfair, the liberal member of Parliament who introduced the legislation) Darwin’s personal background advocating against animal cruelty and the fact that his son-in-law Robert Litchfield (Henrietta’s husband) was the one who helped Darwin write the bill suggests that animal rights was just as much a part of Darwin’s concern. In fact, the Playfair bill went beyond Cobbe’s in the protection of animals by including the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BAAS) guidelines that required anesthetic in all experiments, including for teaching purposes. As historian David Allen Feller wrote last year in his account of the 1875 antivivisection controversy:

Under the BAAS guidelines, not only was anesthesia required in experiments whenever possible, but an entire class of experiments, those conducted for mere demonstration purposes without any new scientific discovery in mind, were outlawed. This was not so under the [Cobbe] bill, which did not distinguish between classroom and purely scientific experiments. Inclusion of this provision of the BAAS guidelines was clearly intended by Darwin from the outset of his work on the bill. Darwin wrote to Burdon Sanderson and Huxley that he thought the BAAS guidelines would be the best compromise, and Darwin specifically noted the inclusion of a ban on the use of live animals for the purpose of demonstrative teaching.

Darwin is widely known for never taking part in any public discussions or debates on his theory of natural selection (leaving that to trusted friends such as Thomas Henry Huxley). His poor health and hatred of travel kept him at his estate in the countryside throughout most of his life. And yet, on the question of vivisection, Darwin not only traveled to London to help draft the Playfair bill, he returned when asked to testify by the Royal Commission when investigating the use of vivisection. During the questioning Darwin again insisted that experimentation on animals was important for the development of medical science. However, on the question of experiments carried out without anesthetic or ones inflicting pain unnecessarily, Darwin stated unequivocally that, “It deserves detestation and abhorrence.”

Those words became the basis upon which the Royal Commission recommended that vivisection be regulated. After quoting Darwin’s view in their report to the Queen, they went on to state:

This principle is accepted generally by the very highly educated men whose lives are devoted either to scientific investigation and education, or to the mitigation or the removal of the sufferings of their fellow creatures.

The following year The Cruelty to Animals Act of 1876 was passed by Parliament and signed into law.

Charles Darwin’s advocacy for animal rights has more than mere historical interest. Today it is commonplace for scientists, particularly those who work with animal models in their research, to oppose animal rights legislation as being fundamentally anti-science. However, as Darwin himself has demonstrated, it is possible (even necessary) for the pro-science position to be concerned with animal welfare. Being pro-science does not mean being pro-cruelty. There are currently some very good laws in place throughout England, Europe, and the United States that protect animals from unnecessary suffering in the pursuit of medical knowledge. However, the differences between countries continue to raise concerns about how much suffering should be permitted in animal research. This year saw the use of chimpanzees in medical experimentation banned throughout the European Union. At the same time, there are nearly 1,000 chimps used by federal researchers in the United States for vaccine, hepatitis C, and HIV research. Year after year legislation to ban the practice fails to gain support in Congress.

Ironically enough, many of the worst abusers of animals in the nineteenth century came from continental Europe, a region that is now the leader in animal rights legislation. If there is any justice in Eugene Magnan escaping prosecution for his actions 135 years ago, it may be that public outrage over his “demonstration” sparked a movement that, today, would provide him with no safe haven. There is little doubt that animal experimentation has resulted in some necessary medical breakthroughs. But, as in the nineteenth century controversy, Darwin’s own struggles with this research is something we would do well to remember.


“Prosecution At Norwich. Experiments On Animals,” The British Medical Journal Vol. 2, No. 728 (Dec. 12, 1874), pp. 751-754.

Browne, J. (2002). Charles Darwin: The Power of Place. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Darwin, C. (1871). The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex. New York: D. Appleton & Co.

Feller, D. (2009). Dog fight: Darwin as animal advocate in the antivivisection controversy of 1875 Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 40 (4), 265-271 DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsc.2009.09.004

HSS Article on HPS Blogging

Jai of From the Hands of Quacks has written a piece about history of science blogging for the October 2010 Newsletter of the History of Science Society:

It is evident there is a community of bloggers and readers participating actively in engaging histories of science. I doubt that blogs will supplant traditional scholarship (e.g. peer-reviewed journals), but as a blogger, I am open to their ability to stimulate conversations not available in traditional fora. Blogs create a new aspect of scholarly culture, an amiable digital ivory tower spearheaded by the open-access movement, a movement that presents fresh opportunities to educate or to influence public participation. Blogs are also paving the way for new careers for HPS scholars (e.g. as “Content Curators” who seek out and organize content specifically for the Internet). If we take blogs seriously as intellectual products, they can solidify many engaging aspects of HPS narratives, enhancing—rather than diminishing—the traditions and identities of history of science for non-historians.

Read the rest here.

5 days until The Giant’s Shoulders #27

There are only 5 days left before the deadline of the next edition of The Giant’s Shoulders history of science blog carnival!  It will be held at Entertaining Research, and the deadline for entries is September 15th.  Entries can be submitted through blogcarnival.com or directly to the host blog, as usual!

There should be plenty this time around, seeing that there’s been an increase in #histsci blogging over the last week!

New HoS Blogs: Whewell’s Ghost & Reading History of Science

I’ve been adding new blogs and twitter accounts to my big list of history of science blogs, and I am happy to have just added Whewell’s Ghost:

This is a group blog for collecting blog posts on the history and philosophy of science, and for posting new ones too. It is named after William Whewell (pronounced “hew-ell”), whose works History of the Inductive Sciences and Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences in the mid 19th century set off both the proper and separate history of science, and the philosophy of science, respectively. It’s no accident that Whewell coined the term “scientist”. It was said of him that he had read a great many prefaces, which is a bit unfair as scientists tended to lay out their philosophy in the prefaces to their technical books.

We aim to collect as many authors who write decent and accurate history and philosophy of science as we can. So if you are inclined to post something either on your own blog or are looking for a place to do so, please contact John Lynch or John Wilkins to be added, and let us raise Whewell’s Ghost.

Mentioned in a post by @Rebekah Higgitt is her new annex blog, Reading the History of Science, spawned by her interest in popular books about the history of science:

I few days ago, I sent a question out on Twitter: ”Could you send me e.g.s of GOOD popular history of science, any format? Ones that wd please academic historians & general readers #histsci” and went on to explain that the ”Reason for request is I’m realising how easy it is to criticise bad #histsci but how hard to point to good stuff aimed at wide audience”.

Glad to see more blogging about the history of science!

Small Dispersal Event

The Darwin Correspondence Project’s “Darwin and Gender” project has a Twitter feed: @DarwinWomen, “Charles Darwin’s women correspondents speak out!”

BBC News: Charles Darwin’s ecological experiment on Ascension isle

Science, Reason and Critical Reasoning: Modern Science Map (I’m sure there’s much that could be said about the way this is set up, but I’m just going to enjoy the awesomeness of it and not try and find any mistakes, misses, etc.).

Guardian science blogs (via Noticing/Science)

Four Nails in Darwin’s Coffin, oh my!

History of Science Blogging Survey

Jai of From the Hands of Quacks is, like me last year, seeking information about the use of history of science blogs. She has put together an informal survey for either history of science bloggers themselves or those who read history of science blogs. It will only take a few moments, so I would appreciate your participating!

Here’s her post, and the survey page.

Also, if you could link to the survey on your blogs, Facebook, or retweet my tweet, I’m sure she would be delighted…

An updated list of history of science blogs and Twitter

UPDATE (12/2104): I have not added to this list in several years, so I’m sure it has dead links and is missing lots of new blogs. 

Since November 2009 when I gave a talk for the History of Science Society meeting in Phoenix about history of science blogging, this list of history of science blogs has increased. Here are the blogs and twitter accounts that focus on or dabble in the history of science, science and technology studies, etc., that I am aware of – please comment with others I have missed.

I keep a #histsci list on Twitter, updated frequently: @darwinsbulldog/histsci

Advances in the History of Psychology (@AHPblog)
Adventures of a Post-Doc
Alfred Russel Wallace Correspondence Project
Alfred Russel Wallace News & Views (@ARWallace)
AmericanScience: A Team Blog (@henrycowles, @danbouk) (previously History of Science in America)
Anita Guerrini
Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Centraal
Archy (& Mammoth Tales, @archymck)
Biomedicine on Display (@museionist) [now at Medical Museion, @medicalmuseion]
Boffins and Cold Warriors
BSHS Travel Guide (@BSHSNews)
The Bubble Chamber: Where history and philosophy of science meet society and public policy (@BblChamber)
Chris Renwick’s Blog (@ChrisRenwick)
Collect and Connect: Nineteenth Century Natural History
Contagions (@hefenfelth)
cosmohistory (@HistoryPhysics)
cryology and co.
Culturing Science (@hannahjwaters)
Dan Cohen’s Digital Humanities Blog (@dancohen)
Darin Hayton (@dhayton)
Darwin and Gender: The Blog (@DarwinWomen)
Darwin and Human Nature: The Blog (@DarwinHuman)
Decoding the Heavens
The Dispersal of Darwin (@darwinsbulldog)
Dissertation Reviews (@dissreviews)
Einstein’s Apple (old)
entangled bank
Ether Wave Propaganda
Evolving Thoughts (@john_s_wilkins)
False vacuum: a weblog by Aaron Sidney Wright (Notes on the History and Philosophy of Science) (@aaronswright)
Floating in a web of inter-textuality
Fossils and Other Living Things
Foundations of Science Sydney
From the Hands of Quacks: The Official Weblog of Jaipreet Virdi (@jaivirdi)
From natural history to science: The emergence of experimental philosophy
The Giant’s Shoulders (blog carnival)
A Glonk’s HPS Blog (@Rusgerkins)
Heterodoxology (@easprem)
History for a Sustainable Future (@EganHistory)
History of Economics Playground
The History of Emotions Blog
History of geology (@David_Bressan)
The History of Psychology
History of Science (from the Royal Society, see @NotesRecordsRS)
History of Science
History of Science (@emmajacobs)
HistoryofScience.com Blog
History of Science in America
History of Science, Medicine, and Technology at the University of Wisconsin
History of Science at Oregon State University
History of Science for the Science Classroom/Ron Gray – science educator (@grayron)
The History Student (@kathleenmcil)
The History of Vaccines Blog
hpb etc. (@Darwiniana)
HSS Graduate & Early Career Caucus
HSTM at the University of Minnesota (old)
in propria persona (@krisnelson)
The Inverse Square Blog (@TomLevenson)
IT History Society Blog (@ithistoryorg)
Jacob Darwin Hamblin (@jdhamblin)
Kele’s Science Blog (@KeleCable)
Laelaps (@laelaps)
The Lippard Blog (@lippard)
Logan Lounge (old)
Longitude Project Blog (@beckyfh)
media to explore hsci / med / tech @ ou
Meteorite Manuscripts (@MetManuscripts)
The Missing Link (old)
Morbid Anatomy (@morbidanatomy)
Mz Skeptica (@MzSkeptica)
Natural Selections (Darwin Correspondence Project)
Neuron Culture (@david_dobbs)
The Neuro Times (@TheNeuroTimes)
Non-Consensual Science
Not by Needs nor Nature (@jessephiltz)
Occam’s Trowel (old)
PACHSmörgåsbord (@pachsnet, @dhayton)
The Pauling Blog
The Perfect Vacuum, Imaginary Magnitude (@GustavHolmberg)
New Books in Science, Technology, and Society (@NewBooksSTS)
petri dish (@pandorakat)
Postgraduate Forum for the History of Medicine (@PGHistMed)
The Primate Diaries (formerly The Primate Diaries in Exile and TPD, @ericmjohnson)
Productive (Adj)
Oral Histories of Science (British Library)
OU History of Science Collections (@ouhoscurator)
Periodic Tabloid (@chemheritage)
Ptak Science Books (@ptak)
Public Historian (@publichistorian)
quod erat demonstrandum
Quodlibeta (@DrJamesHannam)
ragesoss (@ragesoss)
Rationally Speaking
Reciprocal Space (@Stephen_Curry)
Relevant History (@askpang)
The Renaissance Mathematicus (@rmathematicus)
Restricted Data: The Nuclear Secrecy Blog
In Retrospect
Roger Launius’s Blog
Saberes Subalternos
Science in Society
Science, Values, and Democracy
Sciences et savoirs: Histoires et historiographies
Scientia Curiosa (@history_geek)
Seiler on Science
A Simple Prop (@jmlynch)
Skulls in the Stars (@drskyskull)
SomeBeans (@SmallCasserole)
Somatosphere: Science, Medicine, and Anthropology (@somatosphere)
Songs from the History of Science
Stories from the Stores
STS Observatory
Telescope History
teleskopos (@beckyfh)
Textbook History (@textbooktweets)
think deviant – philosophy of science
Thinking through my fingers
Thoughts in a Haystack
through the looking glass (@alicebell)
Time to Eat the Dogs (@ExplorationBlog)
Tom’s History of Science BLOG
Transcribing Tyndall (@JohnTyndallCP)
Tycho’s Island (@tychosisland)
University of Toronto Science Instrument Collections (@UTSIC)
Until Darwin: Science & the Origins of Race
UCSD Science Studies Program
Vintage Space (@astVintageSpace)
A Voice of Reason
Walking History (@wilkohardenberg)
Wellcome Library Blog (@wellcomelibrary)
Whewell’s Ghost (@WhewellsGhost)
Whipple Library Blog (@hpslib)
William Eamon (@williameamon)
Wonders & Marvels (@history_geek)
The World’s Fair (@dnghub)
Zoonomian (@physicus)

History of science on Twitter solely:
Ann, @transfermium
Jon Agar, @jon_agar
Daniel Ansted, @DAnsted
Andrew Ball, @ehmst
Antonio Barrera, @abarreraosorio
Jennifer Bazar, @jenniferbazar
Elizabeth Bruton, @lizbruton
Keynyn Brysse, @Paleo_Girl
Gary Butt, @gbutt
Joe Cain, @drjoecain
Lizzy Campbell, @LizzyCampbell
Margaret Cavendish, @ScientificLady
Natalia Cecire, @ncecire
Center for the History of Psychology, @CHP_UA
Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, University of Manchester, @ManCHSTM
David Chavarría, @Dawudart
Brendan Clarke, @philmedman
Nathaniel Comfort @nccomfort
Erik Conway, @ErikMConway
Bill Cronon (@wcronon)
daveedmesh, @daveedmesh
Thomas Dixon, @ThomasDixon2011
Ralph Drayton, @rdrayton
E-Sci-Hist, @ESciHist
Randi Hutter Epstein @rhutterepstein
Graham Farmelo, @grahamfarmelo
Edward Fenner, @EdwardFenner
Mike Finn, @theselflessmeme
Kieron Flanagan, @kieronflanagan
Fundoro (FCOHC), @Fundoro
Aileen Fyfe, @AileenFyfe
Delia Gavrus, @DeliaElena
Frederick Gibbs, @fredgibbs
Neil Gussman, @sgtguss
Piers Hale, @piershale
Deborah Harkness, @DebHarkness
HarvardSTS, @Harvard STS
Vanessa Heggie, @HPS_Vanessa
Jan Helldén, @jhellden
Felicity Henderson, @felicityhen
Jan Henderson, @HealthCulture
Ian Hesketh, @ianhesketh
Phil Hurst, @philc_hurst
Historical Geography Specialty Group, @HistGeogSG
HPS Museum Leeds, @hpsmuseumleeds
HPS, University of Cambridge, @CambridgeHPS
Home of Darwin, @HomeofDarwin
Claire Jones, @Claire_L_Jones
Finn Arne Jørgensen, @finnarne
Seong-Jun Kim, @SeongJun
Alexandre Klein, @kleinalexandre
David Kohn, @DARBASE
Oliver Lagueux, @olilag
Sienna Latham, @clerestories
Linnean Society, @LinneanSociety
Marri Lynn, @Marri
Patrick McCray, @wpmccray
Pamela Mack, @pammack
Amy-Elizabeth Manlapas, @mrsmanlapas
Erika Milam, @elmilam
Museum Boerhaave, @museumboerhaave
Museum of the History of Science, @MHSOxford
NASA History Office, @NASAhistory
Richard Nash, @richardnash
Satoshi Nozawa, @st_nozawa
Eric Oosenbrug, @eric_o
Opphcx, @opphcx
Canan Öztürk, @CananOzturk7
Rebecca Pohancenik, @rpohancenik
James Poskett, @jamesposkett
Rebecca Priestley, @RKPriestley
Dave Race, @davidrace
Keith Ramsey, @keithramsey
Isaac Record, @hoobiewan
Susan Rensing, @susanrensing
Tom Reznick, @threznick
Richard, @ephistorian
Royal Institution, @rigb_science
Pedro Ruiz-Castell, @P_RuizCastell
Eric Scerri, @ericscerri
Science Museum Archives, @GalilieosBalls
Situating Science, @situsci
Society for the Study of Astronomy, @SocHistAst
Society for the Study of Natural History, @SHNHSocNatHist
Alistair S., @alistairsponsel
struthious, @struthious
STS, York Univ., @STS_YorkU
James F. Stark, @KingTekkers
Andrew Stuhl, @andrewstuhl
Carlos Tabernero, @ctabernero
Carsten Timmermann, @ctimmermann
Leucha Veneer, @LVeneer
Alexander Vka, @Alex_Vka
Matthew Wallace, @ml_wallace
Matthew White, @mattadolphus
Jakob Whitfield, @thrustvector
Grant Yamashita, @gyamashita
Jacy L. Young, @jacylyoung

Also of note, ScienceBlogging.org has a wonderful list of science blogs and History News Network a list of history blogs, including a section on History of Science & Technology.

Links about HoS Blogging

Gustav Holmberg, Blogging the history of science, Imaginary Magnitude (March 1, 2011)
Jai Virdi, Conversing in a Cyberspace Community: The Growth of HPS Blogging, From the Hands of Quacks (October 6, 2010)
Jai Virdi, Survey Says… and Survey Results, From the Hands of Quacks (Sept. 17, 2010)
Jai Virdi, Navigating the History of Science Blogosphere, From the Hands of Quacks (August 30, 2010)
Jai Virdi, On the Blogosphere: History of Science Blogs, From the Hands of Quacks (June 12, 2010)
Michael D. Barton, History of Science Society 2009: “Your Daily History of Science,” The Dispersal of Darwin (Nov. 25, 2010)
Will Thomas, “Blogging as Scholarship,” Ether Wave Propaganda (October 24, 2008)
Michael Robinson, “A Blog of One’s Own,” Time to Eat the Dogs, (October 27, 2008)
Loïc Charles, “Blogging for what? Blogging for whom?” History of Economics Playground (November 14, 2008)
Benjamin Cohen, “Why Blog the History of Science?” Newsletter of the History of Science Society (October 2008)
Benjamin Cohen, “Why Blog the History of Science?” The World’s Fair (October 14, 2008)
Benjamin Cohen, “What difference does the history of science make?” The World’s Fair (August 4, 2008)
John Lynch, “Blogging and history of science,” Stranger Fruit (August 4, 2008) [John now blogs at A Simple Prop]

11 days until the “fools, failures and frauds” edition of The Giant’s Shoulders!

From The Giant’s Shoulders:

I have almost been negligent in pointing out that there’s only 11 days left before the deadline of the next edition of The Giant’s Shoulders history of science blog carnival!  This is a special edition, hosted by scicurious, and is known as the “fools, failures and frauds” edition, commemorating the history of those scientific discoveries that didn’t work out as intended!

Consider submitting a history of science post that describes (a) some really stupid or crazy scientific research (or researchers), (b) research that didn’t work out as intended or expected, (c) research that was completely fraudulent.  All relevant history entries will be included, but please think about writing something special for this themed edition!

Entries can be submitted through blogcarnival.com or directly to the host blog, as usual!

Also, Darin Hayton at the history of science blog PACHSmörgåsbord takes a look and has some questions about The Giant’s Shoulders:

Thinking about history of science (and related genres) I began to wonder about the history of science blog carnival over the past two years. Although each carnival has been posted at The Giant’s Shoulders (and conveniently listed in the sidebar), I thought it might be nice to draw attention to them all, in some collective way, and might be interesting to look at the blogs and authors who had contributed to the carnival. I’m not sure what conclusions can be drawn, but I think it’s safe to say that historians of science are in the minority. That is not to say that there hasn’t been a nice range of carnival hosts nor that the authors of those blogs don’t write interesting and informative posts, many of which are related to the history of science. But most of the blogs and their authors seem to be scientists of different stripes (e.g., physicists, mathematicians, biologists) and science writers.

I suppose the next step would be to classify the posts to get an idea of the relative popularity of different kinds of posts. For example, are history of science posts more or less common than science writing or science communication posts? Do certain subjects, e.g., Darwin, religion vs. science, physics, seem more popular than others? Extra credit for anybody who actually does that analysis.

Comfort through Einstein?

This is the banner for Ray Comfort’s blog, Atheist Central. Such an odd name for such an anti-anything-but-fundamentalist-Christianity blog (I guess he decided on that name to drive up traffic). Down in the sidebar, then, Comfort lists some quotes from Einstein that show he believed in God – not a personal God, Comfort notes, but a god nonetheless. He was no atheist.

Okay, yes, Einstein was no atheist. He was a Jew, but for cultural and not religious reasons. This quote I think nicely sums up his view:

I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.

For Einstein, “God” represented the harmony of the universe. Comfort is annoyed by atheists claiming Einstein as one of their own, yet turns around and claims him for his side. Einstein’s religious views are complex, and he does not fit neatly into any one side. It is interesting, though, that Comfort does not share this quote from Einstein, newsworthy in 2008 because the letter in which it is found sold at auction for a lot of cash:

[…] The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. These […] interpretations are highly manifold according to their nature and have almost nothing to do with the original text. For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.

Why, Comfort, do you have Einstein all over your blog?


Also see: Einstein’s God at The Lippard Blog

The Giant’s Shoulders #24 & a call for the next

The Giant’s Shoulders #24 is up over at Jost a Mon.

The deadline for the next edition is July 15th, and it will be held at The Dispersal of Darwin. Wait, that’s here. It will also be a special event, as it will mark the 2nd anniversary of this carnival’s existence!  Entries can be submitted through blogcarnival.com or directly to the host blog, as usual!

Start sending them in, and if you’re on Twitter, please tweet:

Send your history of science-themed posts to @darwinsbulldog for 25th installment of The Giant’s Shoulders:http://bit.ly/aBMjJj #histsci

100K & Evolution Shaft

Whislt moving to Portland, possibly while passing this enormous tree farm along the 84 in northern Oregon:

Trees, trees, and more trees

Trees, trees, and more trees

And still some more

And still some more

… The Dispersal of Darwin, version 2.0 (so not including 1.0 at Blogger), surpassed 100,000 hits. Nice!

Also, another picture to share. This is in Wallace, Idaho, a silver-mining town since the late 19th century, a mining shaft called Evolution Shaft.

Wallace, Idaho

Wallace, Idaho

Wallace? Evolution? Just who founded this little town? Any idea if there’s a connection, George?

The Dispersal of Darwin turns 3

This blog began, with the title Daily Darwin and at Blogger, on April 22, 2007.

A lot has happened in those 3 years. Patrick & I in April 2007 (he was just over 1 year old):

April 2007

April 2007

And now:

April 2010 (actually, Darwin and his son William in 1842; Darwin was 33, William 3; Patrick turned 4 this year, and I'll turn 32 in June, so this picture could almost represent us, despite the balding and chops!)

New Theme

I’ve changed the theme of this blog from the 4 column one to this 2 column one. I will be reworking the content in my sidebar over the coming weeks, checking for dead links, updating the blogroll, etc. I really like this less-cluttered theme, although it does not have the option to display a banner image, so goodbye to HMS Beagle.

Reshelving anti-evolution books on Skeptically Speaking podcast

Can you find the Creationist book?  (Photo by Colin Purrington)

Can you find the Creationist book? (Photo by Colin Purrington)

The whole fiasco revolving around my reshelving anti-evolution books in a bookstore was discussed on the podcast Skeptically Speaking (listen here/mp3 here), and considers whether my sort of activism is effective. You can hear it toward the beginning of the program before they move on to the Independent Investigations Group.

I’ll repost the links to my posts, and posts at other blogs concerning my “subversive” activities:

Feb 7 – My first post on the topic.

Feb 8 – An anti-evolution blog from Brazil (the Google translation of this post).

Feb 10 – West’s post on the Discovery Institute blog (this post was copied here,  here, and here).

Feb 10 – Posted on an anti-creationism blog.

Feb 11 – Posted on a pro-evolution blog.

Feb 11 – My response to West.

Feb 12 – Posted on a pro-evolution blog.

Feb 12 – Mentioned at the website for the National Association of Science Writers.

Feb 12 – Posted on an intelligent design blog (this post was copied here and here).

Feb 14 – Mentioned by aforesaid antievolutionist in Brazil in comments on this post on Telic Thoughts.

Feb 15 – Discussed on Open Parachute (this post was copied here).

Feb 15 – Discussed on Thoughts in a Haystack, in “Tempest, Meet Teacup!”