ARTICLE: More than a Mentor: Leonard Darwin’s Contribution to the Assimilation of Mendelism into Eugenics and Darwinism

An article of interest in the Journal of the History of Biology:

More than a Mentor: Leonard Darwin’s Contribution to the Assimilation of Mendelism into Eugenics and Darwinism

Norberto Serpente

Abstract This article discusses the contribution to evolutionary theory of Leonard Darwin (1850–1943), the eighth child of Charles Darwin. By analysing the correspondence Leonard Darwin maintained with Ronald Aylmer Fisher in conjunction with an assessment of his books and other written works between the 1910s and 1930s, this article argues for a more prominent role played by him than the previously recognised in the literature as an informal mentor of Fisher. The paper discusses Leonard’s efforts to amalgamate Mendelism with both Eugenics and Darwinism in order for the first to base their policies on new scientific developments and to help the second in finding a target for natural selection. Without a formal qualification in biological sciences and as such mistrusted by some “formal” scientists, Leonard Darwin engaged with key themes of Darwinism such as mimicry, the role of mutations on speciation and the process of genetic variability, arriving at important conclusions concerning the usefulness of Mendelian genetics for his father’s theory.

To quote-mine or not to quote-mine…

“It is interesting to contemplate a supporter of intelligent design, clothed with errors of many kinds, with misquotes gracing their writings, with various misrepresentations here and there, and with ignorance showing from their mouths, and to reflect that these in-elaborately constructed forms, so like each other, and dependent on each other because everyone else thinks they are ridiculous, have all been – unfortunately – produced by laws acting around us.” – Charles Darwin, 1859

In this post by ID-sympathizer and Darwin-to-Hitler historian Richard Weikart, a review of a new biography of Darwin by Paul Johnson, these words are actually strung together: “While some of his discussion about social Darwinism makes sense, he overplays his hand, damaging his credibility. While he correctly argues that Darwin was a bona fide social Darwinist, he mistakenly insists that Darwin opposed vaccinations and other medical interventions that allowed the weak and sickly to reproduce. This is a widespread myth among anti-Darwinists that has been propagated by quoting Darwin out of context. It is true that in Descent of Man Darwin mentioned that vaccinations (and other public health measures) could promote the reproduction of the weak, but Darwin immediately added that because of our social instincts, ‘we must bear without complaining the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind.'” (emphasis mine)

Weikart, a Professor of History at California State University, Stanislaus and author of two books linking Darwin to Hitler (which are widely criticized by Darwin historians, notably Robert J. Richards), is a Fellow of the Discovery Institute, the definitive intelligent design organization, AKA ” the quoting Darwin out of context”-generator. Weikart appeared in the DI’s film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, talking with Ben Stein about Darwin and Hitler:

Following that bit in the “documentary,” you will see this scene:

Here are the words of Darwin that Stein gives us from The Descent of Man (1871):

With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. Hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

This surely sounds like Darwin is supportive of eugenics. However, as many were quick to show just after the film was released, this is a pathetic attempt to misquote Darwin to those who didn’t know better – the intended audience for the film. All one has to do is look up where the passage came from in Darwin’s book (and this day in age it is so simple a task). From pages 168-169 in the first edition of The Descent of Man, published by John Murray in London in 1871:

With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, if so urged by hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with a certain and great present evil.

Oh, Darwin was not advocating for eugenics at all. How dishonest of the filmmakers. I find it ironic that Weikart, having appeared in this film in a scene adjacent to probably the most public instance of Darwin misquoting for the benefit of antievolutionism, himself is criticizing another historian for quoting Darwin out of context. Oh, Darwin-haters, you’re so hard to understand!

ARTCILE: Patrick Geddes and the politics of evolution

File:Patrick Geddes (1886).jpg

Patrick Geddes (1854 - 1932)

Forthcoming in Endeavour:

Patrick Geddes and the politics of evolution

Chris Renwick

Abstract Ever since they began to be widely discussed during the early nineteenth century, evolutionary ideas have played a controversial role in debates about politics and social reform. Understanding the political commitments of those who have sought to integrate politics and evolution is a complex challenge, though; not least because memories of mid-twentieth-century eugenic policies have frequently shaped how we talk about biosocial science. However, as the case of the Scottish biologist-turned-town-planner Patrick Geddes highlights, while we need to be aware of the broad appeal that biosocial science has historically held, we also need to recognise that current political categories can be misleading when thinking about those of who have put evolution and politics together.

ARTICLE: The Scopes Trial Revisited: Social Darwinism versus Social Gospel

Not new, but I just came across this from the June 2008 issue of Science as Culture:

The Scopes Trial Revisited: Social Darwinism versus Social Gospel

Matthew J. Tontonoz

Abstract To many observers, the recent evolution wars in the US seem a revival of the historic 1925 Scopes trial, with William Jennings Bryan cast as the intellectual forbearer of today’s creationists and proponents of intelligent design. This paper argues against drawing too close a parallel between these two episodes. Using Bryan’s unread closing remarks as a key to his views, this revisionist historical work argues that Bryan opposed evolution primarily for political and ethical reasons—reasons that have been lost to historical memory. Bryan’s overarching concern was the threat to society posed by extrapolations of evolutionary doctrine—namely, Social Darwinism and eugenics. His commitment to the Social Gospel put him at odds with the concept of natural selection being applied to humans. This view of Bryan differs from the one with which we are most familiar. Our faulty historical memory largely reflects the caricatured view of Scopes spawned by the movie Inherit the Wind, a view that, furthermore, reinforces an unhelpful positivistic view of science.

Glenn Beck on Darwin

Beck: “I am not a history teacher.” No shit, Sherlock.

On his program today, Beck espoused the anti-evolutionist claim that Darwin is somehow responsible for racism; he seems to imply that Darwin can be traced to the practice of slavery in America. Slavery, however, was an institution that predated Darwin’s birth and one which he was revolted by (during the Beagle voyage and, as some historians have argued, led to his developing a theory of evolution with common descent). He surprises his viewers with the historical connection between abolitionist Wedgwood with his famous image “Am I Not a Man and a Brother? and his grandson Charles Darwin. Darwin was…. wait for it… “the father of modern-day racism.” Yes, a famous abolitionist had a famous racist for a grandson. But, Darwin was himself a passionate abolitionist, and any claims of racism must be taken in context of the time he lived.

In the beginning of this segment (at this link), Beck urged his viewers to go out and read and get the information for themselves. Why, then, Beck, do you depend on misleading anti-evolutionist propaganda about Darwin and don’t go out and read about it for yourself? Here’s two suggestions: Voyage of the Beagle and Darwin’s Sacred Cause.

The shit that refuses to be flushed

The shit:

Wallace, too?

Wallace, too?

Just back in June, Michael Ruse argued against  the tired argument that Darwin was somehow responsible for Hitler and the atrocities of the Holocaust. And now we must defend Newton. He is responsible, after all, for bombs dropping and bullets speeding. Not really, but it follows the same logic.

A Discovery Institute fellow has once again lambasted Charles for events which occurred after his death. See “The Dark Side of Darwinism” by David Klinghoffer for The Huffington Post on July 2, which reads, in part:

Darwin elaborated a picture of how the world works, how creatures war with each other for survival thus selecting out the fittest specimens and advancing the species. In this portrait of animal life, man is no exception. Any animal that strives to preserve the weak, as man does, is committing racial suicide. “Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind,” Darwin wrote in The Descent of Man, a policy “highly injurious to the race of man.”

Hitler did nothing more than translate the competition of species into obsessively racial terms. John West reminds us that while it’s true that Darwin himself was by all accounts a kind and gentle man, he was “better than his [own] principles.” The outline of a campaign of extermination — of whatever groups might be deemed unfit — is right there in the notorious fifth chapter of the Descent. Darwin assured readers that human sympathy would prevent such a horror, but his own concept of morality was itself an evolutionary one. Moral ideas evolved along with the species. There is nothing transcendentally compelling about our “sympathy.”

Darwinism was itself a major agent of dispelling sympathetic sentiments. Evolutionary thinking inspired modern scientific racism. For Darwin, evolution explained the phenomenon — so he saw it — of racial inferiority. Some races were farther up the evolutionary tree than others. Thus, in his view, Africans were just a step above gorillas.

In the hands of American racists, such observations came to justify not only eugenics but ugly restrictive immigration legislation like the 1924 Johnson-Reed Act, authored by a congressman from Washington State, Albert Johnson. He was inspired by the bestselling eugenics advocate of the time, Madison Grant, whose influential book The Passing of the Great Race sold more than a million and a half copies. The Johnson-Reed law, which excluded Asians from immigrating to the United States, was one of the irritants in U.S.-Japanese relations that led ultimately to the Pacific side of World War II.

“Ideas have consequences” — that is the often repeated mantra of this meaty documentary. Which is, come to think of it, another fact of history that tends to get lost, or suppressed, in discussions of Darwinism.

A picture of how the world works carries implications about how the world should work, must work. If morality is stitched into the fabric of reality rather than being merely a useful fiction, then here is no observation about reality that has no moral consequences. That much the victims of moral Darwinism, over the past century and a half, have found out to their sorrow.

Again, the application of a particular science – good or bad – does not say anything about whether said science is correct/true/proven/confirmed/what have you. Many blogs have responded to this beaten and ludicrous claim, so here are some links:

The Sensuous Curmudgeon: Klinghoffer Disgorges a Creationist Gusher (7/3/10)

The Sensuous Curmudgeon: Hitler, Darwin, and … Winston Churchill? (7/5/10)

PZ: Huffpo. Creationist. Nazis. Mix together and flush. (7/5/10)

The Primate Diaries: Darwin and Hitler, Again? (7/6/10)

The Primate Diaries: Responding to Discovery Institute at Huffington Post (7/6/10) & Eric was censored!

Thoughts in a Haystack: Shameless Assholes (7/7/10)

Please be patient, I am evolving as fast as I can!: Klinghoffer . . . again! (7/7/10)

Religious Dispatches (Lauri Lebo): HuffPo Columnist Tries to Link Darwin with Hitler (7/8/10) & Greg takes note

Robert J. Richards, an historian of biology and Darwin scholar, addresses the claim: Darwin –> Haeckel –> Hitler in his book The Tragic Sense of Life: Ernst Haeckel and the Struggle over Evolutionary Thought, and he has several papers/chapters on the same topic available on his website (here, here, here, and here). A review of the book went up on Skeptic and Richards responded to the “hyperbolically misleading review.”

Back to Klinghoffer. He urges Steve Newton of the NCSE, who wrote a piece for HuffPo a few days before where he stated “David Klinghoffer… has tried to link Darwin to Dr. Mengele, H.P. Lovecraft, Chairman Mao, and Charles Manson,” to check out a new documentary titled What Hath Darwin Wrought? – a film produced by none other than the Discovery Institute. Unbelievable! Essentially: “Hi, my name is David, I am with the Discovery Institute. You don’t accept my argument, so let me give you another opinion. It’s also from the Discovery Institute. Trust me, we have no biased agenda.”

Creation Science Conference in Bozeman

In April, Grace Bible Church in Bozeman, Montana will be hosting the free-to-attend Creation Conference 2010: Fact Over Fiction – Countering Myths in Biology, organized by the Montana Origins Research Effort (MORE). MORE is:

a group of individuals, both scientists and laymen, that have come together to learn about scientific support for six-day literal creation and the global flood of Noah’s day.  This group will conduct field trips to local and regional areas of geologic interest and will conduct one or more research projects to investigate issues of flood geology.  MORE will also sponsor, plan and conduct creation science seminars open to the public that will disseminate current findings from the creation science community to the glory and magnification of God and His holy scriptures.

One of the founders of MORE, meteorologist Michael Oard, should be well-known to readers of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, as he has many times expressed his views – not only on evolution but global warming – as letters to the editors. Here are some examples. From Nov. 19. 2004:

I am writing in response to the AP article about “embarrassment” in Georgia over the evolution dispute. The dispute is over textbooks and stickers calling evolution “a theory, not a fact.” The article is similar to many other diatribes and should really be an embarrassment to the AP writer.

First, evolution was never defined. Some scientists define evolution as “change with time.” Others think of evolution as proved by the variety of dogs, the finches on the Galapagos Islands, bacterial resistance, etc. These are examples of what is called “microevolution.” We observe these changes, and they are properly part of science. They are easily explained as adaptations within kinds. The real debate is whether we can extrapolate these findings and conclude one kind over time became another kind (molecules to man evolution or “macroevolution”). This is not observed today nor, because of the universal gaps in the fossil record, can it be inferred from the fossil record. So, macroevolution cannot be claimed as indisputable fact, only a supposition, because true science is based on observations. Historical science is based upon past records and beliefs about our origins. Because of this, creation or intelligent design is equally if not more valid.

Second, notice that the writer did not give any scientific evidence for evolution. He appealed to authority, ridicule and questionable anecdotal statements. Maybe the reason this issue is still around today is because the same arguments were used in the 1800s. Staunch evolutionist Steven Jay Gould contends in his book “Times Arrow, Times Cycle” that the geological assumption of uniformitarianism won the day over catastrophism, not by force of logic but through propaganda. Uniformitarianism later paved the way for the theory of evolution.

The AP writer apparently is not well informed about the origins debate, which should be an embarrassment, but of course how can he, since evidence against evolution is constantly being suppressed. A true scholar looks into both sides of a dispute as does a good journalist. The book “Evolution: A Theory in Crises” by evolutionist and religious agnostic Dr. Michael Denton is a good place to start. Another is the Web site:

From Feb. 14, 2005 (in response to this letter by MSU paleontology student Bobby Boessenecker, who has written many letters defending evolution education):

The letter to the editor in the Feb. 8 Chronicle by Montana State University student Bobby Boessenecker highlights the reason why we need an alternative to the dogmatic teaching of evolution on the subject of origins. The student displays many common misunderstandings and logical fallacies, beginning with the definition of science.

Science is about observable features and processes occurring today. Professor David Kitts says in the journal Evolution (1974, volume 28, p. 466): “Evolution, at least in the sense that Darwin speaks of it, cannot be detected within the lifetime of a single observer.” If macroevolution cannot be observed, it is not science. Hypotheses about the past are history.

We do observe tremendous variety today within different types of animals, but this is not evolution. It is just the shuffling of existing genetic information. We do not observe information being added, causing one kind to “evolve” into another kind, i.e., cats into dogs.

Real science in the fossil record consists of the fossils, only. “Descent with modification” is aninterpretation of these observations based on multiple assumptions about the past.

What we do observe, however, is that the fossil record is composed of large gaps between higher groups of organisms. Observations of genetics, mutations and natural selection mean that evolution, if it occurred in the past, must have been exceedingly slow. Logically, we should find millions of transitional forms. There are precious few claims of transitional forms. This observational evidence from the fossils record is contrary to evolution.

A truly objective education is to teach both sides of the origins debate. As it stands right now, only one interpretation of data is allowed and the other is censored. There is plenty of evidence against evolution. It is necessary and scientific to examine all of the data and not be satisfied with a superficial examination.

From Dec. 29, 2005:

After reading the many letters to the editor on the creation-evolution issue in the Chronicle, I believe more and more that the controversy needs to be taught in the public schools. One of the main reasons is because of the abysmal ignorance on the subject. The evolutionists do not seem to know or even understand the intelligent design or creationist position. They bring up many straw men and false arguments.

The evolutionists think that by taking some classes on evolution or reading some of the many books on evolution will be enough to show the “bankruptcy” of the anti-evolution position. This would work only with those who know little about the issue.

I have found the opposite is the case.

I have been extensively studying the issue for more than 30 years. I became interested after graduate school when I had time to delve into the subject at more than a superficial level. While spouting “evolution is a fact” on college campuses, the evolutionary hypothesis is really bankrupt.

Ninety percent of the reading I do is from evolutionary sources. I have even read Richard Dawkins’ “Blind Watchmaker,” which I found logically flawed. Many of the evolutionists are simply expressing their faith and what they have been taught.

The charge of creationists being intellectually lazy is laughable. Tell that to the thousands of creationist scientists of several generations ago, like Robert Boyle, Michael Faraday, Kepler, Newton, Maxwell, etc.

For those who cannot see any evidence for intelligent design, try meditating on the workings of the cell and think about how chance could have produced the first cell in the “soupy sea.” The cell is only the first step. We are composed of billions of cells that all work together. Even long-time agnostic philosopher Anthony Flew has admitted there is a creator because of the complexity of the cell.

Now that we know the general position on matters of MORE and what we’d likely find at the creationism conference – various talks on dinosaurs, Noah’s Ark, DNA, mutations, flood geology, wonders of the cell, the origin of life, and ape-men and even one titled “Darwinian Evolution: Religion of Death” mixed in with prayer sessions and story and song times – I want to highlight something on the conference’s website.

Creation Conference 2010, Bozeman, MT

Creation Conference 2010, Bozeman, MT

Do you notice anything interesting? Here’s a close-up:

Yeah, what Darwin said!

Yeah, what Darwin said!

It’s a quote from Charles Darwin. Nothing to worry about here. Wait, hasn’t that quote been taken out of context before by, um, the intelligent design think tank Discovery Institute, to promote their anti-Darwin Day campaign, Academic Freedom Day. See here:

Fresh on the heels of Darwin Year, Discovery Institute announces the launch of the 2nd Annual Academic Freedom Day in honor of Charles Darwin’s birthday, February 12, 2010. Yes, it’s that time of year again, and Discovery Institute is gearing up for the celebration by supporting what Darwin supported: academic freedom. Academic Freedom Day couldn’t come at a better time, as academic freedom is threatened around the country. We have seen Darwinists launch cyber attacks on a pro-ID conference website in Colorado and engage in an illegal coverup in the censorship of a pro-ID film in California. It’s time like these when Darwin’s own words should instruct everyone on how to have an open and honest debate over evolution and intelligent design. In On the Origin of Species, Darwin wrote, “A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.” This quote is the cornerstone of the Institute’s Academic Freedom Day efforts. [emphasis mine]

Fair enough, except that the Discovery Institute is not being fair to Darwin, at all. And neither is the Montana Origins Research Effort.

Academic Freedom Day

Academic Freedom Day

John Pieret and John Lynch both note how the DI uses this quote elsewhere. Here is the quote as the DI and MORE use it:

A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.

It does indeed come from the introduction of the first edition (1859) of On the Origin of Species, and here it is in context:

This Abstract, which I now publish, must necessarily be imperfect. I cannot here give references and authorities for my several statements; and I must trust to the reader reposing some confidence in my accuracy. No doubt errors will have crept in, though I hope I have always been cautious in trusting to good authorities alone. I can here give only the general conclusions at which I have arrived, with a few facts in illustration, but which, I hope, in most cases will suffice. No one can feel more sensible than I do of the necessity of hereafter publishing in detail all the facts, with references, on which my conclusions have been grounded; and I hope in a future work to do this. For I am well aware that scarcely a single point is discussed in this volume on which facts cannot be adduced, often apparently leading to conclusions directly opposite to those at which I have arrived. A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question; and this cannot possibly be here done.

Darwin is stating that in the book you are now reading – Origin – he cannot properly offer all the facts he has in support of evolution. He originally planned to publish a much longer book titled Natural Selection (which was later published in 1975) but was hurried into publication when he found out Alfred Russel Wallace had come up with the same theory of natural selection. Darwin is not, as the DI claims, saying that all sides are equal concerning debate over evolution. Once again, creationists resort to the tactic of quotemining Darwin or his supporters to their benefit (see here and here).

Back to the creationism conference in Bozeman. The talk titled “Darwinian Evolution: Religion of Death” will likely address the claim that acceptance of evolution, and hence Darwin himself, supports eugenics, the Nazis, slavery, abortion, and so on. On one hand they appeal to Darwin for the issue of academic freedom (“Darwin, Darwin, he’s our man, if no one can show them Darwinists, no one can!”), yet on the other denigrate the man for the ills of society past and present. Let’s remember kids, there was no slavery or genocide before 1859.

Darwin Round-Up

Monday, November 16th is the deadline for submissions to Charlie’s Playhouse’s “Ask the Kids” [about evolution] project.  More information here.

I somehow neglected to share Ben Fry’s very cool digital rendition of the six editions of On the Origin of Species and the changes therein: “The Preservation of Favoured Traces.”

The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences blog that accompanies their new Darwin as a geologist exhibit (my pics) has a short write up on the “Darwin in the Field” conference I attended last July, here. Also, the newsletter of the Palaeontological Association (they provided funding for the conference, including travel money for myself and a post-doc at the Smithsonian) has a report of the conference written by, well, me! You can see it at the bottom of page 56 in this PDF.

Two freely available articles from Bioscience: “The Darwinian Revelation: Tracing the Origin and Evolution of an Idea” [PDF] by James Costa and “Ten Myths about Charles Darwin” [PDF] by Kevin Padian [previous posts with Padian].

Nature has started a series on Darwin and culture called “Global Darwin”: “Darwin and culture,” “Global Darwin: Eastern enchantment,” and “Global Darwin: Contempt for competition.” These pieces explore a variety of reactions to Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Also titled “Global Darwin” is a 2009 lecture by Jim Secord. Access it here. At the same site are lectures by Janet Browne and Rebecca Stott.

Here is a page for the National Library of Medicine’s exhibit Rewriting the Book of Nature: Charles Darwin and the Rise of Evolutionary Theory, and two sets of pictures on Flickr showing a Darwin exhibition (Darwin’s Legacy) at the National Museum of Natural History, sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution Libraries.

Darwin Online has put up the annotated copy of On the Origin of Species owned by Darwin’s third son, and experimental assistant, Francis.

Videos of many lectures from the University of Cambridge’s Darwin Festival in July are up on YouTube.

Darwinfest: Bold Ideas Change Worlds, at ASU, has its own website. Darwin biographer Janet Browne will give a lecture on November 13th. Previous lectures from throughout 2009 are available for download.

Historian of science Jim Endersby will talk on “Darwin, Hooker, and Empire” on November 18th  in conjunction with the American Philosophical Society’s exhibition Dialogues with Darwin: An Exhibition of Historical Documents and Contemporary Art. Website here, and a fun Flickr photo set of post-it notes that visitors filled out and placed on a tree of life diagram. Another recent lecture of Endersby’s, “Smashing Species: Joseph Hooker and Victorian Science” for the Royal Society, can be downloaded as an mp3.

Christ’s College, Cambridge has a website for Darwin, with lots of resources.

“Who can head the words of Charlie Darwin…”

Cambridge Library Collection’s Life Science series offers reprints of many historically important books (71 titles), many of which are on Amazon.

Via Genomicron, “This View of Life: Evolutionary Art for the Year of Darwin”:

Evolutionary art is the topic of many books this year: Charles Darwin and Victorian Visual Culture by Jonathan Smith; Endless Forms: Charles Darwin, Natural Science, and the Visual Arts by Jane Munro; Darwin: Art and the Search for Origins; The Art of Evolution: Darwin, Darwinisms, and Visual Culture by Barbara Larson and Fae Bauer; Darwin’s Camera: Art and Photography in the Theory of Evolution by Phillip Prodger; Reframing Darwin: Evolution and Art in Australia by Jeanette Hoorn; and Darwin’s Pictures: Views of Evolutionary Theory, 1837-1874 by Julia Voss.

In Evolution: Education and Outreach is an article by U. Kutschera called “Darwin’s Philosophical Imperative and the Furor Theologicus: “In 1859 Charles Darwin submitted a manuscript entitled “An Abstract of an Essay on the Origin of Species and Varieties through Natural Selection” to John Murray III, who published the text under the title On the Origin of Species. On many pages of this book, Darwin contrasts his naturalistic theory that explains the transmutation and diversification of animals and plants with the Bible-based belief that all species were independently created. On the last page of the first edition, published in November 1859, where Darwin speculated on the origin of the earliest forms of life from which all other species have descended, no reference to “the Creator” is made. In order to conciliate angry clerics and hence to tame the erupted furor theologicus, Darwin included the phrase “by the Creator” in the second edition of 1860 and in all subsequent versions of his book (sixth ed. 1872). However, in a letter of 1863, Darwin distanced himself from this Bible-based statement and wrote that by creation he means “appeared by some wholly unknown process.” In 1871, Darwin proposed a naturalistic origin-of-life-concept but did not dare to mention his “warm little pond hypothesis” in the sixth definitive edition of the Origin (1872). I conclude that the British naturalist strictly separated scientific facts and theories from religious dogmas (Darwin’s “philosophical imperative”) and would not endorse current claims by the Catholic Church and other Christian associations that evolutionary theory and Bible-based myths are compatible.”

EEO also has a piece about the traveling Darwin exhibition by Chiara Ceci, “Darwin: Origin and Evolution of an Exhibition”: “Two hundred years after his birth, Darwin, originated by the American Museum of Natural History in New York, is the most important exhibition about the English scientist ever organized for the general public. This traveling exhibition has appeared in many versions worldwide, and a study of the relationships between local developers of the various editions of the exhibition underlines how a scientific exhibition and, more generally, science communication can succeed in striking a good equilibrium between universal content and cultural determinants.”

“Discover the principles of evolution through animations, movies and simulations” at Evolution of Life.

Several articles have appeared this year in the Journal of the History of Biology touching on Darwin and evolution in general: “Capitalist Contexts for Darwinian Theory: Land, Finance, Industry and Empire” (M.J.S. Hodge); “The Origins of Species: The Debate between August Weismann and Moritz Wagner” (Charlotte Weissman); “Edward Hitchcock’s Pre-Darwinian (1840) ‘Tree of Life'” (J. David Archibald); “Tantalizing Tortoises and the Darwin-Galápagos Legend” (Frank J. Sulloway); “‘A Great Complication of Circumstances’ – Darwin and the Economy of Nature” (Trevor Pearce); “Charles Darwin’s Beagle Voyage, Fossil Vertebrate Succession, and ‘The Gradual Birth & Death of Species'” (Paul D. Brinkman); “Darwin and Inheritance: The Influence of Prosper Lucas” (Ricardo Noguera-Solano and Rosaura Ruiz-Gutiérrez); and “Of Mice and Men: Evolution and the Socialist Utopia. William Morris, H.G. Wells, and George Bernard Shaw” (Piers J. Hale).

A Darwin article in Plant Biology: “From Charles Darwin’s botanical country-house studies to modern plant biology”: “As a student of theology at Cambridge University, Charles Darwin (1809-1882) attended the lectures of the botanist John S. Henslow (1796-1861). This instruction provided the basis for his life-long interest in plants as well as the species question. This was a major reason why in his book On the Origin of Species, which was published 150 years ago, Darwin explained his metaphorical phrase `struggle for life’ with respect to animals and plants. In this article, we review Darwin’s botanical work with reference to the following topics: the struggle for existence in the vegetable kingdom with respect to the phytochrome-mediated shade avoidance response; the biology of flowers and Darwin’s plant-insect co-evolution hypothesis; climbing plants and the discovery of action potentials; the power of movement in plants and Darwin’s conflict with the German plant physiologist Julius Sachs; and light perception by growing grass coleoptiles with reference to the phototropins. Finally, we describe the establishment of the scientific discipline of Plant Biology that took place in the USA 80 years ago, and define this area of research with respect to Darwin’s work on botany and the physiology of higher plants.”

And another in Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences: “Dog fight: Darwin as animal advocate in the antivivisection controversy of 1875”: “The traditional characterization of Charles Darwin as a strong advocate of physiological experimentation on animals was posited in Richard French’s Antivivisection and medical science in Victorian England (1975), where French portrayed him as a soldier in Thomas Huxley’s efforts to preserve anatomical experimentation on animals unfettered by government regulation. That interpretation relied too much on, inter alia, Huxley’s own description of the legislative battles of 1875, and shared many historians’ propensity to foster a legacy of Darwin as a leader among a new wave of scientists, even where personal interests might indicate a conflicting story. Animal rights issues concerned more than mere science for Darwin, however, and where debates over other scientific issues failed to inspire Darwin to become publicly active, he readily joined the battle over vivisection, helping to draft legislation which, in many ways, was more protective of animal rights than even the bills proposed by his friend and anti-vivisectionist, Frances Power Cobbe. Darwin may not have officially joined Cobbe’s side in the fight, but personal correspondence of the period between 1870 and 1875 reveals a man whose first interest was to protect animals from inhumane treatment, and second to protect the reputations of those men and physiologists who were his friends, and who he believed incapable of inhumane acts. On this latter point he and Cobbe never did reach agreement, but they certainly agreed on the humane treatment of animals, and the need to proscribe various forms of animal experimentation.”

“Darwinism Comes to Penn” [PDF], in The Pennsylvania Gazette: “A century-and-a-half after the November 1859 publication of On the Origin of Species, a Penn microbiologist looks back at how Darwin’s ideas were received by some of the University’s leading thinkers.”

In the Journal of Evolutionary Biology, “WWDD? (What Would Darwin Do?)” [PDF], looks at evolution research and publishing: “We have just celebrated the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species. While I hope we all rejoiced in the success of evolutionary biology and its continued growth, we should not become complacent. Although these are indeed events to celebrate, we still face the real threat of general ignorance of Darwin’s ideas. World leaders (or would-be world leaders) still promote superstition, stories and unthinking acceptance of dogma over scientific evidence. Evolutionary biologists have succeeded in investigating the magnificence, the wonder, the complexity, and the detail of evolution and its role in generating biodiversity. Evolutionary biologists have been less successful in making this relevant to those who are not biologists (and even, alas, some biologists). Is evolutionary biology likely to thrive when governments demand an immediate return on their research investment? How do we begin to educate others as to the value and importance of evolutionary research? I do not begin to claim that I can fathom the mind of Darwin, but I cannot help wondering – what would Darwin do today? Would he respond? How would he respond? And, what would be the form of his response?”

Jerry Coyne on “Why Evolution is True”:

Daniel Dennett on “Darwin and the Evolution of Why”:

A new book “offers a primer in the history of the development of evolution as a discipline after Darwin’s book and in how evolution is defined today”: The Origin Then and Now: An Interpretive Guide to the Origin of Species (Princeton University Press, 2009) by UCR biologist David Reznick. You can read the introduction on the publisher’s page for the book.

Richard Dawkins closes his latest book The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by going through and detailing each line of the famous closing paragraph (“There is grandeur in this view of life…”) of On the Origin of Species. It’s available online, for you, to read, and ponder.

“The Evolution of Charles Darwin,” a 4-part series on CBC Radio One: “Ideas pays tribute to Charles Darwin and celebrates the 150th anniversary of the publication of his transformational and contentious book, On the Origin of Species. Darwin’s theory of evolution through Natural Selection completely changed how we think about the world. In this 4-part series, Seth Feldman guides us through the life and ideas of Charles Darwin, a creative genius. The series is produced by Sara Wolch.” Via Adrian.

Via The Evolution List, The Darwinian Revolutions Video Series: “This series of six online videos is a brief introduction to Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection and its implications.” The short videos are: Darwinian Revolutions, Evolutionary Ancestors, Lamarck’s Theory, One Long Argument, Mendel-Eclipse of Darwin, and The Evolving Synthesis.

The November 2009 issue of Naturwissenschaften is devoted to Darwin. The articles are “Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, directional selection, and the evolutionary sciences today” [PDF] (Ulrich Kutschera); “Darwin’s warm little pond revisited: From molecules to the origin of life” [PDF] (Hartmut Follmann and Carol Brownson); “Charles Darwin, beetles and phylogenetics” [PDF] (Rolf G. Beutel, Frank Friedrich and Richard A. B. Leschen); “The predictability of evolution: Glimpses into a post-Darwinian world” [PDF] (Simon Conway Morris); and “Evolutionary plant physiology: Charles Darwin’s forgotten synthesis” [PDF] (Ulrich Kutschera and Karl J. Niklas).

Two more articles consider Darwin and the origin of life. In Endeavour James E. Strick offers “Darwin and the origin of life: public versus private science”: “In the first twenty years after the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, an intense debate took place within the ranks of Darwin’s supporters over exactly what his theory implied about the means by which the original living organism formed on Earth. Many supporters of evolutionary science also supported the doctrine of spontaneous generation: life forming from nonliving material not just once but many times up to the present day. Darwin was ambivalent on this topic. He feared its explosive potential to drive away liberal-minded Christians who might otherwise be supporters. His ambivalent wording created still more confusion, both among friends and foes, about what Darwin actually believed about the origin of life. A famous lecture by Thomas H. Huxley in 1870 set forth what later became the ‘party line’ Darwinian position on the subject.” In Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres, Juli Peretó, Jeffrey L. Bada and Antonio Lazcano offer another analysis in “Charles Darwin and the Origin of Life”: “When Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species 150 years ago he consciously avoided discussing the origin of life. However, analysis of some other texts written by Darwin, and of the correspondence he exchanged with friends and colleagues demonstrates that he took for granted the possibility of a natural emergence of the first life forms. As shown by notes from the pages he excised from his private notebooks, as early as 1837 Darwin was convinced that “the intimate relation of Life with laws of chemical combination, & the universality of latter render spontaneous generation not improbable”. Like many of his contemporaries, Darwin rejected the idea that putrefaction of preexisting organic compounds could lead to the appearance of organisms. Although he favored the possibility that life could appear by natural processes from simple inorganic compounds, his reluctance to discuss the issue resulted from his recognition that at the time it was possible to undertake the experimental study of the emergence of life.”


PZ Myers live-blogged on Pharyngula talks given at Chicago’s big Darwin festival, Darwin/Chicago 2009. Science Life also has a piece about the conference.

From the August 24, 2009 issue of Significance, two Darwin articles: “Darwin, Mendel and the evolution of evolution” by R. Allan Reese: “The history of science is full of myths. Darwin has his fair share; but Gregor Mendel, his fellow scientist and contemporary, has suffered even more. R. Allan Reese disentangles what we like to believe about Mendel from what we should believe—and finds a modern species whose origin was not by conventional evolution;” and “Cousins: Charles Darwin, Sir Francis Galton and the birth of eugenics” by Nicholas W. Gillham: “Sir Francis Galton, scientist, African Explorer and statistician, was a key figure in statistical history. He was the man who devised the statistical concepts of regression and correlation. He was also Charles Darwin’s cousin. And, inspired by his reading of Darwin, he was the founder of eugenics: the “science” of improving the human race through selective breeding. Nicholas Gillham tells of a darker side to statistics and heredity.”Sir Francis Galton, scientist, African Explorer and statistician, was a key figure in statistical history. He was the man who devised the statistical concepts of regression and correlation. He was also Charles Darwin’s cousin. And, inspired by his reading of Darwin, he was the founder of eugenics: the “science” of improving the human race through selective breeding. Nicholas Gillham tells of a darker side to statistics and heredity.”

In Archives of Natural History of October 2009 is a short article, “Letters from Alfred Russel Wallace concerning the Darwin commemorations of 1909” by Henry A McGhie.

CONFERENCE: Evolution and the Public

From the H-SCI-MED-TECH listserve:

Evolution and the Public (1859-2009) —
The discussion of a scientific idea and its ramifications since Charles

University of Siegen, Artur-Woll-Haus
September 3-5, 2009
Deadline for Proposals: March 1, 2009

Please note: Contributions to this project may take on different forms
(see below).

When Charles Darwin published his theory of evolution by means of
natural selection scientists and a wider public were well aware that
this concept was more than a scientific explanation for natural
phenomena. They already had a glimpse of what we today well know after a
hundred-and-fifty years of debate: The theory of evolution impinges upon
a great number of principle issues, be they theological, philosophical,
moral, social or political, in short, on the basics of human existence
and society. It holds the promise of a new freedom and new options while
at the same time unveiling new dangers hidden below the surface of
opportunities given to humanity to influence the evolutionary process.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century it is biotechnology and
genetic engineering which drives controversial debates most strongly.
The compatibility of religion and evolution, most pressing question when
the debate was initiated, is still a matter on which feelings run high.
When Darwin’s ideas were transplanted into other fields, people became
sensitized to new possibilities and new risks: for the individual, for
groups defined in social or national terms, for society in general.
Social Darwinism, eugenics and the power to affect creation in
particular fired and, in modernized form, still fire the imagination.
The conference will look at this multifaceted public debate as it was
conducted in the Western world (a focus will be on Europe and North
America), on various levels from academic circles to casual
conversations of ‘ordinary people’, in various media of popular or high
culture stance (literature in the broadest sense, the press, radio,
television, film, internet, museums etc.). In analyzing the debate on
evolution in the public it inquires after an evolution of the public, a
transformation it may have undergone in the process.
Themes of possible contributions should touch on the following
categories of topics, which will structure the conference as well as the
different forms in which its results will be published.
1. The emergence of a public debate
2. Evolution and religion — a controversy without end?
3. The public and the scientist: Images of scientists from Darwin to the
— Darwin in the eyes of contemporaries and subsequent generations
— Ingenious, mad, dangerous? Images of scientists in the nineteenth and
twentieth centuries
4. From Darwinism to Social Darwinism
5. Eugenics in Europe and North America: Defining an ideal and the
attempts at implementing it
6. The debate on evolution in the age of the human genome:
biotechnology, genetics and man as lord of creation
7. Evolution of the public and the future of the debate.
Proposals for papers are invited from those working in history, history
of science and technology, natural sciences, social sciences,
philosophy, theology, art history, literary criticism, media studies or
related disciplines. Conference language will be English. Thanks to the
Fritz Thyssen Foundation travel funding is available for all speakers.
Please submit an abstract of no more than 500 words in either English or
German together with a short CV before March 1, 2009 for consideration
to Angela Schwarz at
Since it is a public debate that is to be explored, the results shall be
made accessible to a wider public too. For this reason, conference
papers are supposed to deal with their specific aspects in such a way
that they cannot only be published in a collection in book format, but
will also serve as the background to a (sub-)section in a web-based,
long-term presentation of the debate on evolution (similar to a virtual
exhibition) to be created, organized and hosted at Siegen University
after the conference. Potential speakers are therefore kindly requested
to agree to a publication of their contributions in these two ways.
The way of contributing to the project may differ from the common way of
presenting a paper at a conference and publishing it afterwards in a
book. For we also welcome proposals from those interested in providing
input to the internet presentation only — without wishing to present a
paper at the conference or unable to attend it. If you have further
questions, please do not hesitate to contact the convener at the address
given below.

Angela Schwarz
Lehrstuhl für Neuere und Neueste Geschichte
Universitaet Siegen

Prof. Dr. Angela Schwarz
FB 1 – Neuere und Neueste Geschichte
Universitaet Siegen
Adolf-Reichwein-Str. 2
57068 Siegen

Tel.:   0271 / 740 – 4606     0271 / 740 – 4502 (Sekretariat)
Fax:    0271 / 740 – 4596

Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

Carl Erich Correns (Born 19 Sep 1864; died 14 Feb 1933). German botanist and geneticist who in 1900, independent of, but simultaneously with, the biologists Erich Tschermak von Seysenegg and Hugo de Vries, rediscovered Gregor Mendel’s historic paper outlining the principles of heredity. In attempting to ascertain the extent to which Mendel’s laws are valid, he undertook a classic study of non-Mendelian heredity in variegated plants, such as the four-o’clock (Mirabilis jalapa) which he established (1909) as the first conclusive example of extrachromosomal, or cytoplasmic, inheritance (cases in which certain characteristics of the progeny are determined by factors in the cytoplasm of the female sex cell).

Florentino Ameghino (Born 19 Sep 1853; died 6 Aug 1911). Argentine paleontologist and anthropologist who made significant contributions to the field of vertebrate paleontology and established the Pampas region of Argentina as a rich source of fossils. He discovered over 6,000 fossil species and classified 35 suborders of mammals. Ameghino’s controversial discoveries of stone implements, carved bones, and other signs of a human presence in Argentina during the Pliocene, Miocene, and earlier periods served to increase his worldwide fame.

David Starr Jordan (Died 19 Sep 1931; born 19 Jan 1851). American naturalist, educator, and the foremost American ichthyologist of his time. Jordan was a renowned expert in many fields. For example, he served as an expert witness on the validity of the theory of evolution at the Scopes trial in Tennessee. He was known for his work in education, philosophy, and as a peace activist. He often approached the subject of peace from a biological angle, arguing that war was detrimental to the health of the species because it removed the strongest individuals from the gene pool. Although he campaigned vigorously against US involvement in World War I, once war was declared, he advocated aggressive measures to end the conflict quickly.

Francis Darwin (Died 19 Sep 1925; born 16 Aug 1849). English botanist who was the third son of Charles Darwin, and published the results of his collaboration with his father in the publication of The Movement of Plants (1880).

Georg August Schweinfurth (Died 19 Sep 1925; born 29 Dec 1836). German botanist who travelled in the interior of East Africa (from 1868) and studied the inhabitants together with the flora and fauna of the region. During this journey, in Mar 1870, he discovered the River Welle (Uele), explored the upper Nile basin, and charted the western feeders of the White Nile. He wrote about the cannibalistic practices of the Mangbettu, and his discovery of the pygmy Akka confirmed the existence of dwarf races in tropical Africa (The Heart of Africa, 1873). During 1875-88, he lived in Cairo, where he founded the Royal Geographical Society of Egypt. He made historical, geological, ethnographical and botanical investigations ranging from there to the Arabian desert.

Giacomo Doria (Died 19 Sep 1913; born 1 Nov 1840). Italian naturalist and explorer who conducted important research in systematic zoology. Pursuing his work, he made expeditions to Persia (1862), Borneo (1865-66) and Tunisia (1879). In 1867, he founded the civic museum of natural history in Genoa. The collection he donated became the nucleus of the museum, which he directed for more than 40 years. He was also director of Societa Geografica Italiana (1891-1900). The museum he founded now contains important zoolological, paleontological, botanical, and mineralogical collections from all over the world. These collections are continually growing, now estimated to be more than 3.5 million exhibits.

Olof Swartz (Died 19 Sep 1818: born 21 Sep 1760). Swedish botanist who left a legacy of a collection of plants from his botanical tours of the West Indies, Jamaica, North America, Puerto Rico, Haiti and Cuba between 1783-87. On his return, he described nearly 900 species, most of them new, in Flora Indiae occidentalis (3 vols., 1797-1806). The Swedish Museum of Natural History now holds the collection, about 6000 specimens of phanerogams and ferns, mostly from the West Indies. It is a part of their Regnellian herbarium. He is also noted for his taxonomic studies of specific plant groups, including orchids, mosses and especially ferns. He also published Nova Genera et Species Plantarum seu Prodromus (1788) and Observationes botanicae (1791).

Catching Up with Today in Science History

Born February 13th:

G. Brown Goode (Born 13 Feb 1851; died 6 Sep 1896). G(eorge) Brown Goode was an American zoologist who directed the scientific reorganization and recataloging of the collection at the National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C. During the 1880’s he edited two volumes of atlases of illustrations of “The Fisheries and Fisheries Industries of the United States” while Deputy Commissioner of the United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries. The study captured the state of the American fisheries at that time. They describe a significant part of the marine environment with 532 etchings of marine mammals, fish, and shellfish and also illustrated the state of fishing vessels, gear, methods, and processing.

Sir Joseph Banks (Born 13 Feb 1743; died 19 Jun 1820). (Baronet) British explorer and naturalist, and long-time president of the Royal Society, known for his promotion of science. As an independent naturalist, Banks participated in a voyage to Newfoundland and Labrador in 1767. He successfully lobbied the Royal Society to be included on what was to be James Cook’s first great voyage of discovery, on board the Endeavour (1768-71). King George III appointed Banks adviser to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. Banks established his London home as a scientific base (1776) with natural history collections he made freely available to researchers. In 1819, he was Chairman of committees established by the House of Commons, one to enquire into prevention of banknote forgery, the other to consider systems of weights and measures.

Born February 14th:

Joseph Thomson (Born 14 Feb 1858; died 2 Aug 1895). Scottish geologist, naturalist and explorer who was the first European to enter several regions of eastern Africa and whose writings are outstanding contributions to geographical knowledge, exceptional for their careful records and surveys. Thomson’s gazelle (Gazella thomsoni), the most common gazelle of eastern Africa, was named for him.

Thomas Robert Malthus (Born 14 Feb 1766; died 23 Dec 1834). English economist and demographer, best known for his theory that population growth will always tend to outrun the food supply and that betterment of the lot of mankind is impossible without stern limits on reproduction.

Died February 14th:

Sir Julian Huxley (Died 14 Feb 1975; born 22 Jun 1887). Sir Julian Sorell Huxley was an English biologist, philosopher, educator, and author who greatly influenced the modern development of embryology, systematics, and studies of behaviour and evolution. He studied the differential growth of different body parts, Problems of Relative Growth (1932). He wrote many popular articles and essays, especially on ornithology and evolution, and co-produced several history films, including the Private Life of the Gannet (1934). No stranger to controversy, Huxley supported the contentious view that the human race could benefit from planned parenthood using artificial insemination by donors of “superior characteristics”. (He was the grandson of biologist T. H. Huxley and brother of Aldous Huxley.)

Carl Erich Correns (Died 14 Feb 1933; born 19 Sep 1864). German botanist and geneticist who in 1900, independent of, but simultaneously with, the biologists Erich Tschermak von Seysenegg and Hugo de Vries, rediscovered Gregor Mendel’s historic paper outlining the principles of heredity. In attempting to ascertain the extent to which Mendel’s laws are valid, he undertook a classic study of non-Mendelian heredity in variegated plants, such as the four-o’clock (Mirabilis jalapa) which he established (1909) as the first conclusive example of extrachromosomal, or cytoplasmic, inheritance (cases in which certain characteristics of the progeny are determined by factors in the cytoplasm of the female sex cell).

James Cook (Died 14 Feb 1779; born 28 Oct 1728). English seaman who was the first of the really scientific navigators. Captain Cook spent several years surveying the coasts of Labrador and Newfoundland. He observed a solar eclipse on 5 Aug 1766 near Cape Ray, Newfoundland. On the first of three expeditions into the Pacific (1768) he took Joseph Banks as the ship’s botanist to study the flora and fauna discovered. (This practice of carrying a naturalist took place some 75 years before Charles Darwin’s famous voyage.) Cook observed the transit of Venus on this voyage from the island of Tahiti on 3 Jun 1769. This would help scientists plot the distance between the sun to the earth. His geographical discoveries made him the most famous navigator since Magellan. He was killed by cannibal natives in Hawaii.

Died February 15th:

Jan Swammerdam (Died 15 Feb 1680; born 12 Feb 1637). Dutch naturalist, known for his skilled biological microscopical observations and accurate illustrations, who was the first to describe the red blood cells (1658). He studied and illustrated the life histories and anatomy of many species of insects, which he classified on the basis of development. He demonstrated the presence of butterfly wings in caterpillars about to undergo pupation. To facilitate the study of human anatomy, he developed better methods for injecting wax and dyes into cadavers. He was one of the first to dissect under water and to remove fat by organic solvents. He demonstrated experimentally that whereas muscles alter in shape during contraction, their volume is not thereby increased, which contradicted beliefs of the time.

Born February 16th:

Ernst Haeckel (Born 16 Feb 1834; died 9 Aug 1919). German biologist who separated the animal kingdom into unicellar and multicellular organisms, and was an enthusiastic supporter of Darwin’s theories. He led numerous scientific expeditions, and cataloged 4,000 new species of lower marine animals. However, he held an erroneous concept, popularized an expression, “Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny,” (meaning that he supposed any animal embryo progresses through all previous evolutionary stages as it develops) which he based on the striking resemblance of the early embryos of many early vertibrate embryos. Such interpretation may not have lasted, but he nevertheless stimulated enquiry. He coined many words used by biologists today, such as ecology, phylum and phylogeny.

Sir Francis Galton (Born 16 Feb 1822; died 17 Jan 1911). English scientist, founder of eugenics, statistician and investigator of intellectual ability. He explored in south-western Africa. In meteorology, he was first to recognise and name the anticyclone. He interpreted the theory of evolution of (his cousin) Charles Darwin to imply inheritance of talent could be manipulated. Galton had a long-term interest in eugenics – a word he coined for scientifically selected parenthood to enable inheritance of beneficial characteristics. He coined the phrase “nature versus nurture.” Galton experimentally verified the uniqueness of fingerprints, and suggested the first classification based on grouping the patterns into arches, loops, and whorls. On 1 Apr 1875, he published the first newspaper weather map – in The Times.

Jean-Baptiste-Julien d’ Omalius d’Halloy (Born 16 Feb 1783; died 15 Jan 1875). Belgian geologist who was an early proponent of evolution. From his youth he pursued geological researches. He was one of the pioneers of modern geology who determined the stratigraphy of the Carboniferous and other rocks in Belgium and the Rhine provinces, and also made detailed studies of the Tertiary deposits of the Paris Basin. As noted by Charles Darwin in the preface of Origin of the Species: “In 1846 the veteran geologist … Halloy published … his opinion that it is more probable that new species have been produced by descent with modification than that they have been separately created: the author first promulgated this opinion in 1831.” Even in his ninety-first year Halloy made a scientific expedition alone, which exertion contributed to his death.

Died February 16th:

H. W. Bates (Died 16 Feb 1892; born 8 Feb 1825). H(enry) W(alter) Bates was a naturalist and explorer whose demonstration of the operation of natural selection in animal mimicry (the imitation by a species of other life forms or inanimate objects), published in 1861, gave firm support to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. He and Alfred Russel Wallace left England in 1842 to explore and collect insects in the Amazon basin. Bates spent 11 years in Amazonia amassing large collections of insects that were sent back to museums and collectors in Europe. Bates was quick to embrace Darwin’s and Wallace’s theory of evolution by natural selection. Bates’ own theory of mimicry, which now bears his name (Batesian mimicry), provided evidence for evolution by natural selection.

Mega-Post: Post-Fourth Week of Internship

This photo is from atop Mt. Washburn in Yellowstone National Park, looking south. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone cuts across the view, while in the distant left is Yellowstone Lake, and the distant right is the Teton range.

July 20th: Sir Richard Owen born in 1804; John Playfair died in 1819
Pondering Pikaia reminds us that today was the Anniversary of Scopes Verdict

Guardian Unlimited: Making a monkey out of science (scholarly debate was ripe for popular satire in the 19th century)
Red State Rabble rethinks his initial post on Darwin and missionaries
Thoughts in a Haystack on the Discovery Institute linking Darwin to eugenics (Pharyngula’s thoughts)
A website full of Charles Darwin photographs: A Pictorial Biography
Science notes links to a Charles Darwin obit
Light Reading gives us a quote from Secord‘s Darwin and pigeons article
Darwin predicted the discovery of a moth with a very long tongue (more here and here)
Afarensis: Darwin and the Cell and thoughts on Darwin and the Missionaries
Should Darwin have had one of the 7 most exciting moments in science?
On a Korean ID site: Evolutionists Idolize Darwin Daddy (from 2006)
What would sailing on the Beagle sound like?
Darwin – Keeper of Women’s Rights!!!
Philosophy News Service: Darwinism and Gender
Yass to display rare edition of Charles Darwin book

Mano Singham’s Web Journal‘s 10th, 11th, and 12th post on evolution
Evolution News Roundup via Ontogeny
Darwiniana provides links about Lifecode (1, 2)
PLoS Biology: New Taxonomy and the Origin of Species
Telegraph: The new theories of evolution
Beagle Project Blog links an article about evolution’s benefits outside the natural world
Sandwalk has some genetics history (1, 2)

NCSE: Padian reviews Kitzmiller books (here’s a negative review of this review)
Aetiology on a Religion and Science symposium
Check out the new blog Biologists Helping Bookstores (Coturnix’s thoughts)
Is Michael Behe the Darwin Slayer? (ha)
More “quote posts” (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) about the Scopes Monkey Trial from Thoughts in a Haystack
Two sides to the Explore Evolution textbook (and some more)


nothing this week


Tangled Bank #84: Science in Ancient Greece
Laelaps’ first edition of the Boneyard, a blog carnival about paleontology
Latest history of science dissertations (& the one called “The Monkey and the Inkpot” belongs to a new prof coming to my school this fall)
A bloggers thoughts on David Quammen’s “Planet of Weeds” article
Laelaps: Tyrant king of the paleontologists? (Henry Fairfield Osborn)
Fundamentalists are Anti-Science at Something Should Go Here, Maybe Later
Book slut reviews Ending in Ice: The Revolutionary Idea and Tragic Expedition of Alfred Wegener
On Maps and Wests at sporadic meditations

Today in Science History

from Today in Science History:

Sir Julian Huxley June 22, 1887-Feb. 14, 1975.

“Sir Julian Sorell Huxley was an English biologist, philosopher, educator, and author who greatly influenced the modern development of embryology, systematics, and studies of behaviour and evolution. He studied the differential growth of different body parts, Problems of Relative Growth (1932). He wrote many popular articles and essays, especially on ornithology and evolution, and co-produced several history films, including the Private Life of the Gannet (1934). No stranger to controversy, Huxley supported the contentious view that the human race could benefit from planned parenthood using artificial insemination by donors of “superior characteristics”. (He was the grandson of biologist T. H. Huxley and brother of Aldous Huxley.)”

Galileo Detests Heliocentrism

“In 1633, Galileo Galilei was forced by the Inquisition to “abjure, curse, and detest” his Copernican heliocentric views. “I, Galileo…do swear that I have always believed, do now believe and, with God’s aid shall believe hereafter, all that which is taught and preached by the … church. I must wholly forsake the false opinion that the sun is the center of the world and moves not, and that the earth is not the center of the world and moves….” He was then condemned to the “formal prison of the Holy Office” for an undetermined amount of time which would be served at the pleasure of his judges, and required to repeat the seven penitential psalms once a week for three years. The next day the Pope specified the prison sentence should be house arrest.”

Some New Journal Articles

Evolution June 2007 – Vol. 61 Issue 6 Page 1261-1506

Making Evolution Relevant and Exciting to Biology Students
David M. Hillis
pages 1261–1264

Museums Teach Evolution
Judy Diamond and E. Margaret Evans
pages 1500–1506

Biological Theory Volume 2, Issue 1 – Winter 2007

Karl Popper and Lamarckism
Elena Aronova
Biological Theory Winter 2007, Vol. 2, No. 1: 37-51.
PDF (free access)

Michael Ruse—Bare-Knuckle Fighting: EvoDevo versus Natural Selection
Scott F. Gilbert
Biological Theory Winter 2007, Vol. 2, No. 1: 74-75.

Niko Tinbergen: The Ethologist as Field Naturalist
Richard W. Burkhardt, Jr.
Biological Theory Winter 2007, Vol. 2, No. 1: 87-90.

Ernst Haeckel’s Alleged Anti-Semitism and Contributions to Nazi Biology
Robert J. Richards
Biological Theory Winter 2007, Vol. 2, No. 1: 97-103.

Darwinism After Darwin Conference

Darwinism after Darwin: new historical perspectives
University of Leeds, September 3rd – 5th 2007

“Prior to celebrations getting underway for the 2009 Darwin sesquicentenary and bicentenary, this conference will provide an opportunity to think afresh about the legacy of Darwinism and the efforts of historians to understand that legacy. The aim is to encourage new historical and historiographic perspectives on the ideas, research practices, and wider sociopolitics related to evolutionary theory from the late-nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries.”

Scheduled Presentations:

Science and the life story: the historical development of biographies of Darwin (Suzanne Gapps, University of Western Sydney)

A lesson from the past: how biologists use history (Graeme Beale, Edinburgh University)

Historiographical constraints: the divergence of conceptualisations of inheritance of acquired characteristics’ (Fern Elsdon-Baker, University of Leeds)

“Sure, we know all that”: dealing with popular Darwin myths (Peter C. Kjærgaard, University of Aarhus)

Paley evolving: natural theologies in the post-Darwinian nineteenth century (Richard England, Salisbury University, USA)

The un-heretical Christian: Lynn Harold Hough, Darwinism and Christianity in 1920s America (Dawn Mooney Digrius, Drew University, New Jersey)

Arguing from the evidence: the correct approach to Intelligent Design and the U.S. courts (Brian Thomasson, University of California)

From Darwin to Hitler: author meets critics. Richard Weikart responds to critics of his work. Participants include Staffan Mueller-Wille (University Of Exeter), Steve Fuller (University ofWarwick), and John Harwood (University of Manchester)

Rational evolution? Sexual selection in animals & humans, 1915-1935 (Erika Lorraine Milam, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science)

Boas at the Darwin centenary (Greg Radick, University of Leeds)

Darwin at Cold Spring Harbor: the new synthesis tackles human evolution (Jessie Richmond, University of Leeds)

Darwinism on the other side of the Atlantic: race and scientific racism in Latin America

Science, modernity, and evolution: British scientific travellers in Latin America in the late-19th and early-20th centuries (John Fisher University of Liverpool)

Darwinisme et régénérescence au Mexique au XIX siècle (Sonia Lozano, Centrede Recherche Médecine, Sciences, Santé et Société (CERMES), Paris)

The transmission of scientific knowledge to Latin America: uses and misuses of Darwinism in Mexico in the XIX Century (Natalia Priego, Institute of Latin American Studies, University of Liverpool)

How Darwin Online can suggest new historical perspectives (John van Wyhe, University of Cambridge)

The biogeography of power: August Weismann, acclimatization, and the German Empire (Adam Christopher Lawrence, University of California)

From Haeckel with love: Lennart Nilsson’s morphed embryos and the cultural loops of Darwinism (Solveig Jülich, Stockholm University)

“The Armageddon of the future”: racial poisoning and the Victorian laboratory (James Wood, University of Edinburgh)

Eugenics in 1921: a comparison (Hiram Caton, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia)

Communist reception of Darwin: postwar East Germany and Czechoslovakia incomparison, 1945-1965 (Uwe Hossfeld, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Michal Simunek and Tomas Hermann, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic)

Darwinism and contemporary poetry (John Holmes, University of Reading)

The Thinking Path (Shirley Chubb)

Keynote Address [Title TBC] Peter Bowler, Queen’s University Belfast

Why doing history is like remembering: the implications of neo-Darwinian philosophies of consciousness for the practice of history (Francis Neary,CHSTM, University of Manchester)

Resolving the “Darwinian paradox”: Lionel Penrose and the genetics of mental ability, deficiency and disease (Edmund Ramsden, London School of Economics)

[Title TBC] Fabio Zampieri, Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, UCL

Ignorance of natural selection in the social sciences (John Z. Langrish)

Darwin, evolution and late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century British sociology (Chris Renwick, University of Leeds)

Giving Darwin a decent burial (Steve Fuller, University of Warwick)

Round Table Discussion. Darwinism after Darwin: new historical perspectives Participants: Joe Cain(UCL), Staffan Müller-Wille (University of Exeter), Greg Radick (University of Leeds), Jon Hodge (University of Leeds).

Topics for Tuesday

The Legacy of Aldo Leopold at Britannica Blog.

Some philosophy of science at Evolving Thoughts. Parts 2 and 3.

iPhylo on Google Earth phylogenies.

LiveScience reviews the “Mythic Creatures” exhibit at AMNH.

Fundamentalists Try to Link Darwin to Hitler at the GREAT realization.

Recent posts from Darwiniana cover Gould’s dishonest legacy, Darwin and the Age of Positivism, and Evolution not same as natural selection.

Sir John Richardson died (November 5, 1787-June 5, 1865), from Today in Science History:

“Scottish naval surgeon and naturalist who made accurate surveys of more of the Canadian Arctic coast than any other explorer, in service with the Royal navy (1807-55). During this time he was surgeon and naturalist to Sir John Franklin‘s polar expeditions (1819-22, 1825-27). On the second expeditions, he separated from Franklin to explore the coast to the Coppermine River and Great Slave Lake (1826). He conducted a search expedition (1848-49) for Franklin’s lost third Arctic expedition that had started in 1845, but was unable to find any trace of Franklin’s ships. He wrote Fauna Boreali-Americana (1829-37) which became a standard work on Arctic biology. He also wrote on ichthyology and polar exploration.”

Today’s Darwin & Natural History Links

An early March 31st “today in science history,” The Red Notebook: a Darwinian weblog on Darwin and his theory of coral formation.

A critique of American and British natural history and science museums, Siamang at eBay athesist states that the new Creation Museum is the best museum in offering education with its displays. A 2005 article related to this post discusses the inability to find corporate sponsership for the Darwin Exhibit.

The National Center for Science Education compiled memorable quotes from the press coverage of the Creation Museum, and audio is available online for a 2-part radio program about creationism.

The Discovery Institute‘s Evolution News & Views on the Darwin-eugenics link, again…. ‘sigh.’

Some more on the Linnaeus celebrations (1, 2, 3), and Richard Ackerman’s comments on Quammen’s latest article on Linnaeus in National Geographic.

Possible withdrawal of Darwin’s home and workplace nomination for World Heritage Site status

Mark Pagel‘s review (access required) of David Sloan Wilson‘s Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin’s Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives for Nature.

A recent geology doctorate (and creationist) doesn’t believe his own work.