In February, BBC’s program In Our Time looked at Social Darwinism, featuring two historians of science, Gregory Radick and Charlotte Sleigh. Listen to the program here.
The National Center for Science Education shared a link to a radio program:
Is the Louisiana Family Forum ruining education in the state? Is Darwin responsible for Columbine? Hear Barbara Forrest and Judge Darrell White go toe-to-toe on WRKF radio (Baton Rouge). To tune in, go to http://www.wrkf.org/multimedia/index.php?id=1 and select “The Jim Engster Show” from the dropdown menu on the left, then click the December 3 show entry on the right. The debate starts at 21:42.
I listened to it this morning, and while I’ll mention that White repeatedly refers to evolution as “nineteenth-century junk science” and that one cannot logically discredit evolution because two crazy teenagers referred to natural selection regarding their high school shooting rampage (“Ideas have consequences, Jim” / “fallout of mindless ideology” – well, what about killing in the name of God?), I’m more interested in a bit in there about quote-mining. White wants criticisms of evolution to be taught in public school biology classes, Forrest of course supports sound science education (read her letter to the editor). From the radio program:
27:30 Forrest: [in response to White comparing Darwin’s rebuttal in a later edition of On the Origin of Species to Mivart’s criticism that natural selection cannot account for incipient stages of useful structures to intelligent design proponent Michael Behe’s claims that cellular structures are irreducibly complex] “Well, here we have a case of, of Darwin being misused for the agenda of the Louisiana Family Forum. What’s happening here is that the Louisiana Family Forum is attacking science in the textbooks, and the work of scientists that they themselves don’t even properly understand. First of all, in Darwin’s Origin of Species, Darwin was doing what any good scientist does – he recognized the criticisms that might be made against his ideas, and he provided answers to them. And what Mr.White is doing is what creationists always do, they pick quotes, they cherry-pick quotes out of context and try to use them for their advantage.”
29:47 White: “Well, again, we’re in favor of teaching more Darwin than the textbooks allow, and that would include questions, for example, Darwin himself raised, in his introduction Darwin said ‘a fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing all of the facts on both sides of each question.’ The textbooks simply do not do that.”
Just over two minutes after Forrest talked about how creationists pick quotes out of context for their advantage, White does exactly that! When he said that Darwin had said “a fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing all of the facts on both sides of each question,” he’s referring to this line, which is indeed from the introduction of On the Origin of Species:
A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.
Unfortunately, as I’ve pointed out twice before, Darwin is not stating that all sides are equal concerning debate over evolution, but rather that he cannot properly offer all the facts he has in support of evolution in On the Origin of Species, which was much shorter than the book he really wanted to write.
White: “La la la la – I’m not listening…”
The NSF has decided not to provide funding anymore for NPR’s Science Friday, so:
Back on November 11, 2009, I mentioned this:
“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 Feldmanguides us through the life and ideas of Charles Darwin, a creative genius. The series is produced by Sara Wolch.” Via Adrian.
There is now a CD version of the series, with a video preview:
– Part 1, The Prepared Mind:
From Darwin’s early years to his voyage of discovery on H.M.S. Beagle.
– Part 2, From The Beagle to the Book:
Darwin thinks his way to ‘The Origin of Species’.
– Part 3, Primates vs Primates:
What ‘The Origin of Species’ said, and what was said about it.
– Part 4, Darwin’s Enduring Legacy:
Why science and society today are still wrestling with Darwin’s big idea.
The CD set can be had here.
Programme 1. 9.00am, 4 January 2010
Melvyn travels to Wadham College, Oxford, where under the shadow of the English Civil War, the young Christopher Wren and friends experimented in the garden of their inspirational college warden, John Wilkins. Back in London, as Charles II is brought to the throne from exile, the new Society is formally founded one night in Gresham College. When London burns six years later, it is two of the key early Fellows of the Society who are charged with its rebuilding. And, as Melvyn finds out, in the secret observatory in The Monument to the fire, it is science which flavours their plans.
Programme 2. 9.00am, 5 January 2010
Programme two begins in the coffee house Isaac Newton and the fellows of the early 18th century frequented. At the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, we learn how Newton’s feud with the Astronomer Royal John Flamsteed tested the lines between government-funded research and public access. By the end of the century the President, Sir Joseph Banks, successfully embeds the Royal Society in the imperial bureaucratic hub of the new Somerset House. But while senior fellows concentrated on foreign fields, a more radical, dissident science and manufacturing base wrought the Industrial Revolution right under their noses.
Programme 3. 9.00am, 6 January 2010
The 19th century blooms scientifically with numerous alternative, specialist learned societies and associations, all threatening the Royal Society’s pre-eminence. Attempts to reform the membership criteria – marking scientific leadership’s painful transition from patronage to expertise – are troubled, and organisations such as the British Association for the Advancement of Science (now the BSA) excite and enliven scientific discourse outside of London.
Programme 4. 9.00am, 7 January 2010
The horrors of the First World War were a shocking indictment of the power of science. Picking up the thread at this hiatus in scientific optimism, this programme, recorded in the current home of the Royal Society in Carlton House Terrace in London, looks at the more subtle, discreet role the Society played in the 20th century, such as secretly arranging for refugee scientists to flee Germany, co-ordinating international scientific missions during the Cold War and quietly distributing government grant money to fund the brightest young researchers in the land..
NPR has a page for their recent Darwin content:
Charles Darwin is most remembered for his revolutionary theory of evolution. As a child, he hated school, but Darwin loved to read and to explore the natural world. Throughout his life he was constantly experimenting — with seeds, plants, worms, gases, and Galapagos flora and fauna — to understand the science of life.February 20, 2009 · Evolution doubters have adopted a new focus for their attacks on Darwin’s theory: the human brain. They say it’s impossible that a grouping of cells could produce something as abstract and complex as consciousness or free will. Brain scientists counter that there’s plenty of evidence that the brain causes the mind. But they admit they’re not exactly sure how this happens.
February 11, 2009 · Imagine having a revolutionary idea, and then sitting on it for more than 20 years. That’s what Charles Darwin did. His theory that nature — not God — was responsible for the marvelous variety of life on Earth was heretical. But then a young butterfly collector forced Darwin’s hand.
February 8, 2009 · Science long ago proclaimed Darwin’s theory of evolution a winner. And in honor of his 200th birthday, England is issuing commemorative stamps, coins — even quilts — in honor of its hero. But in parts of the U.S., Darwin’s theories remain socially controversial.
February 1, 2009 · To honor Charles Darwin — born 200 years ago this month — Weekend Edition Sunday and the NPR science desk are launching a series called “Darwin 200.” In the first installment, Keith Thomson, author of The Young Charles Darwin, talks about his early influences.
February 12, 2009 · While Charles Darwin is most remembered for his revolutionary theory of evolution, he also studied earthworms. He proposed the theory that earthworms, then considered pests, actually processed soil, making it more fertile.
February 22, 2009 · This Orchids. These brilliant, flashy, sensual, and sometimes graphic flowers fascinated Charles Darwin. This year the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has made Darwin’s interest in the flowers the theme of their annual orchid exhibition.
February 15, 2009 · The state of Kansas has been publicly wrestling with how or whether to teach Darwin’s theory of evolution in the public schools. At the University of Kansas, some students are studying biological sciences despite devout Christian faith and a strong belief in the biblical story of creation. They face internal struggles similar to the ones Darwin himself must have felt as he wrestled with his scientific theories about evolution.
February 13, 2009 · Listeners respond to the story on Charles Darwin and earthworms. Melissa Block and Robert Siegel read from listeners’ e-mails.
February 12, 2009 · Charles Darwin was honest with his devout Christian wife that his scientific investigations led him to doubt the existence of heaven. But he feared that publishing his scientific ideas would hurt her deeply. Only after his daughter Annie’s death did this change, biographers say.
February 12, 2009 · The work of Charles Darwin, who was born 200 years ago Thursday, transformed our understanding of life on Earth and underpins the whole of modern biology. His work challenged just about everything the Victorians believed in.
February 12, 2009 · The University of Cambridge in England is working to put all of Charles Darwin’s scientific work online. You can already see thousands of letters, and an online version of the first edition of “The Origin of Species”.
February 15, 2009 · Why do Charles Darwin’s ideas generate such strong resistance? Maybe because it hurts people’s feelings. But does accepting our place in the animal kingdom make us any less miraculous?
February 11, 2009 · Churches and synagogues worldwide will be holding events this weekend to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. Organizers of Evolution Weekend say it’s a chance for people of faith to challenge the assumption that evolution and religion are incompatible.
February 6, 2009 · Feb. 12 marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth. Ira Flatow speaks with Darwin’s great-great-grandson, writer and director Matthew Chapman, about the ongoing battle over teaching evolution in public schools and how Darwin’s legacy continues to evolve.
January 25, 2009 · Liane Hansen reads listeners’ reactions to last week’s “This I Believe” essay by 6-year-old Tarak McLain, a suggestion for the upcoming series on Charles Darwin, and a note of praise for our interview with gospel singer Shari Addison.
Audio for the episode of BBC Radio’s Pods and Blogs (now Outsiders) (with Jamilla Knowles) that features The Dispersal of Darwin, which Peter was nice enough to spread the word about, is now up online (mp3 link below, Darwin segment starts at 13:40 into the program). (UPDATE: the audio for this is no longer available online)
Pods and Blogs: 17 February 2009
Geek ink, Darwin online, the death of TV as we know it and the game that hooked us early when the ball was square. All on pods and blogs this week.
This morning I discussed my blog with Jamilla Knowles of BBC Radio 5’s Pods and Blogs program. The show airs very early in the morning I believe in the UK, so I think it will be available here in the states Monday evening or later. But I will post it here as soon as I know that it is up!
From Quirks & Quarks:
February 7, 2009
Happy Birthday Mr. Darwin
February 12 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, certainly the most important biologist in history and one of the great figures in science. Darwin, of course, spent his life developing the theory of evolution by natural selection, which has become the foundation for the understanding of biology. In the 1960’s evolutionary biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky said that “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution,” and that’s a statement with which few biologists would argue.
To honour Darwin’s birthday, we’re devoting our program to a discussion of the life and work of Charles Darwin, and to a discussion of his impact on modern science, with three special guests.
David Quammen is a well known naturalist and science writer, a contributing writer for National Geographic magazine, and a visiting professor at Montana State University. In his book, The Reluctant Mr. Darwin: an Intimate Portrait of Charles Darwin and the Making of His Theory of Evolution, he explores the fascinating story of Darwin’s quiet life as a scientific pioneer.
Listen to or download the mp3
Dr. Steve Jones is a professor of genetics and Head of the Department of Biology at University College London. His latest book is Darwin’s Island, The Galapagos in the Garden of England. While the wildlife of the Galapagos Islands are one of the most important icons of Darwin’s work, Dr. Jones argues that, in fact, his research on the wildlife of England – barnacles, plants, soil and and domestic animals – were at least as important in developing his ideas about evolution as his early exploration.
Listen to or download the mp3
Dr. Olivia Judson is an evolutionary biologist, a science writer, and a research fellow at Imperial College, London. Like most biologists she’s an ardent admirer of Darwin and his work, especially the way it transformed biology from a practice of description into a real predictive and experimental science. She says Darwin’s insights into the operations of the natural world raised questions that scientists are still exploring today, as they investigate the subtle mechanisms of natural selection through genetics.
Listen to or download the mp3
The Forces That Shaped A Young Charles Darwin
Listen Now [10 min 45 sec]
Weekend Edition Sunday, February 1, 2009 · To honor Charles Darwin — born 200 years ago this month — Weekend Edition Sunday and the NPR science desk are launching a series called “Darwin 200.” In the first installment, Keith Thomson, author of The Young Charles Darwin, talks about his early influences.
As part of BBC’s Darwin season, you can listen to Adrian Desmond and James Moore discussing their new book, Darwin’s Sacred Cause, on Radio 4’s Leading Edge. Go here, then click on “Listen to the latest edition” above the photo of the show’s host. This aired on January 22nd…
I am trying to download the mp3s for the recent Darwin series from In Our Time, but two of the four want to download as HTML document’s when I click on the links in my Google Reader. Anyone have another way of getting these mp3s?
From the Australian radio show Ockham’s Razor for January 11, 2009:
Charles Darwin arrived in Australia on 12 January, 1836, 173 years ago. He was on board of a Royal Navy ship called the ‘Beagle’ as a companion for the Captain Robert FitzRoy. Emeritus Professor Frank Nicholas from the University of Sydney has written a book called Charles Darwin in Australia, in which he writes about Darwin’s experiences while in this country.
Download mp3 here.
Weekend Edition Sunday, January 18, 2009 · The world is getting ready to celebrate the 200th birthday of one of the most influential biologists — some would say THE most influential biologist — ever born. Charles Darwin revolutionized the way scientists think about how life on this planet evolved.
NPR’s Joe Palca is in England to prepare stories for the Darwin bicentenary, and he chats with host Liane Hansen about some of the preparations and NPR’s upcoming coverage.
As mentioned here, BBC – Radio 4 will have several shows about Charles Darwin. In Our Time, hosted by Melvyn Bragg, continues with a 4-part series with “The Beagle, the Mockingbird and the Megatherium”:
Part 2 of 4 charts Darwin’s round the world voyage on the Beagle and the objects and the ideas he bought back.
As mentioned here, BBC – Radio 4 will have several shows about Charles Darwin. In Our Time, hosted by Melvyn Bragg, starts off a 4-part series with “On the Origins of Charles Darwin”:
Episode 1, On the Origins of Charles Darwin, charts Darwin’s unhappy childhood, his time at Cambridge University and his failure to become a priest.
From Times Online:
But for this week we will have to make do with Melvyn Bragg. The BBC’s polymath of choice begins a special four-part series of In Our Time on Monday (9am), recorded in various significant locations in Darwin’s life. In the first, recorded in Cambridge, Bragg discusses the significance of Darwin’s three years at the university, where he trained for a career in the Anglican Church (in later years, after the death of his young daughter Anna, Darwin was to lose his faith).
Then, in Dear Darwin (Mon to Fri, 3.45pm) an eminent contemporary thinker a day writes a letter to the great man illustrating the ways in which his work has influenced their own – and fill him in on how things have progressed since his death in 1882.
Finally, Hunting the Beagle (Fri, 9pm) diverts from the scientifically academic to consider a practical matter – what became of the little ship that Darwin made famous.
For more than 160 years the fate of HMS Beagle has been unknown. In 1845 she was refitted as a static coastguard watch vessel used to control smuggling on the Essex coast – and this is where the biologist and maritime historian Robert Prescott believes she lies today. The programme follows Prescott’s attempt to drill down into the bilges of a suspected wreck in the River Roach to extract a sample of Beagle-identifiable sediment. Yes, it would probably work better on TV, but use your imagination and it’s still exciting.
TWO VIEWS OF CREATION
a lecture by Sir Paul Nurse
recorded at Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland
British Nobel Laureate Sir Paul Nurse discusses how the ‘creationist’ view of evolution, as given by John Milton in his poem Paradise Lost, contrasts with the ‘natural selectionist’ view from Charles Darwin’s The Origin of the Species.
Through this comparison, he sheds light on the ultimate successes and limitations of scientific knowledge.
From Living on Earth (15 Aug. 2008):
The Darwin Lectures
150 years ago, Charles Darwin’s ideas about evolution were first announced in public – to a meeting of the Linnean Society in London. Oddly, almost no one noticed!
It might not have helped that the joint paper (with Alfred Russell Wallace) was given the ripping title ‘On the Tendency of Species to Form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection’.
A year later when the book came out everyone realised just what a big bang it was in terms of ideas. The paper, the book, and now the radio lecture series…
From Sunday 24 August 2008, Radio New Zealand explores the ideas of Darwin and their impact. This six-part series from the Royal Society plays in our Sunday Feature slot, and features some of New Zealand’s most eminent scientists.
Lecture 1 – Darwin and the Evolution of an Idea
Professor Lloyd Spenser Davis, University of Otago
In the last 2000 years there has been one idea, above all else, that has altered the way we view the world and our place in it. That idea is evolution by natural selection and the originator of the idea was Charles Darwin.
Recorded 19 August in Napier(duration: 50′45″)
Download: Ogg Vorbis MP3
Lecture 2 – The Evolution of Biological Complexity
Professor Paul Rainey FRSNZ, Massey University
Professor Rainey paints a picture of life’s evolution from the perspective of major evolutionary transitions, including that from solitary organisms to societies.
Recorded 28 July in New Plymouth(duration: 51′54″)
Download: Ogg Vorbis MP3
Lecture 3. The Principle of Evolution: Absolute Simplicity
Professor David Penny CNZM FRSNZ, Research Director, Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution, Massey University
Can we find anything in biology that is not understandable, or not explainable, by the things we can observe and measure in the present? Evolution is, by far, the simplest possible way of understanding ourselves, our past, and our future.
Recorded 20 August in Palmerston North
Lecture 4. The fossil record
Professor Alan Cooper, Director, Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, The University of Adelaide
How should we interpret what the fossil record tells us about evolution – both in general, and with regard to how New Zealand has ended up as it is today?
Recorded 18 August in Gisborne
5. Evolutionary Psychology
Professor Russell Gray, The University of Auckland
Attempts to explain human behaviour in evolutionary terms have a mixed history. Today, crude social Darwinian and socio-biological explanations are increasingly being replaced by richer, more complex theories.
Recorded 3 September in Hamilton
6. The Storytelling Ape: Evolution, Art, Story, Culture
Professor Brian Boyd, The University of Auckland
Brian Boyd will focus on art, perhaps the feature of human behavior that might seem to have least to do with a struggle for existence. Can biology explain why art (music, dance, visual art, storytelling and verse) is a human universal? Why do we so compulsively invent and engage with stories we know to be untrue?
Recorded 8 September, in Nelson
From July 1st:
Today’s science correspondent Tom Feilden visits Charles Darwin’s garden in Kent, which he used as an open air laboratory, to find out how Kentish hedge parsley helped Darwin to refine his theory of natural selection. LISTEN
From July 5th:
Charles Darwin, author of the Origin of Species, may have seriously considered the possibility that life arrived here in a meteorite. Dr John Van Whye, a historian of science at Cambridge, has been exploring this theory for a paper he is giving and he discusses the possibility with Dr Caroline Smith, the meteorite curator at the Natural History Museum. LISTEN
Both of these radio pieces were discussed on the blog Question Darwin: Pilgrimage to Downe House and Charles Darwin and the coal from space!, and the following was added to The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online on July 3rd:
Darwin, C. R. 1881. [Quotation from a letter]. In R[achel, G. W.], Mr. Darwin on Dr. Hahn’s discovery of fossil organisms in meteorites. Science 2, No. 61 (27 August): 410. Text Image A newly discovered Darwin publication!