The Charles Darwin bicentenary

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M. Spector M. Spector's picture
The Charles Darwin bicentenary

February 12 is the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin.

[url=Why">http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/feb/09/darwin.dawkins1][=med... Darwin Matters[/][/url], by Richard Dawkins

[url=The">http://www.channel4.com/science/microsites/F/famelab/]... Genius of Charles Darwin[/url]

[url=Charles">http://www.socialistvoice.ca/?p=366][u]Charles Darwin and Materialist Science[/url]

[url=Charles">http://socialistresistance.org/?p=303][u]Charles Darwin: Reluctant Revolutionary[/url]

Tommy_Paine

I think one of the more interesting aspects of Darwin is his methodology, and how he anticipated criticisms. It's amazing just how patient he was in presenting the theory, and how whole it was due to this.

Few people remember that Wallace also came upon the theory at the same time as Darwin, yet they both agreed that Darwin's presentation was more complete.

And, if one reads literature from the period before Darwin published "The Origin of Species", we find people were sort of all around the idea, but lacked the discipline, observational skills and all the things that were wrapped up in Charles Darwin to be able to see it in whole, and express it.

 

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Tommy_Paine wrote:

And, if one reads literature from the period before Darwin published "The Origin of Species", we find people were sort of all around the idea, but lacked the discipline, observational skills and all the things that were wrapped up in Charles Darwin to be able to see it in whole, and express it.

Yes, Darwin was not the first to posit the evolution of species from other species. But while his work was the first to provide a correct explanation for how species evolve, building on the work of other scientists, it was by no means a scientific consensus position. Darwin knew his theories were unacceptable to the scientific elite, which led him to voluntarily suppress them for 20 years before he finally published them.

Quote:
While Darwin's ideas were quickly accepted by many scientists, especially younger ones, they were roundly condemned by the scientific establishment and by religious leaders. Adam Sedgwick, Darwin's geology professor at Cambridge, called On the Origin of Species "utterly false and grievously mischievous" and declared his "detestation of the theory, because of its unflinching materialism," while Richard Owen [head of natural science at the British Museum] denounced it as an "abuse of science."
[url=Source[/url]">http://www.socialistvoice.ca/?p=366][=mediumblue]Source[/col...

Fidel
Papal Bull

So, according Fidel's UFO image (which is awesome) Darwin is either out of this world, or he never died and simply went home - like Elvis.

Sven Sven's picture

Papal Bull wrote:
...Fidel's UFO image (which is awesome)...

And he has WAAAAAY too much free time on his hands!! Tongue out 

_______________________________________

Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

[url=Darwin">http://www.counterpunch.org/garcia02062009.html][u]Darwin's Living Legacy[/url] by Manuel Garcia, Jr.

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Darwin Day 2009 is a celebration of the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin Of Species. Darwin Day in any year is always a celebration of the many triumphs of the human mind over backwardness, ignorance and superstition.

Unionist

What's this - your alternative to Darwin's theory of the origin of species?

Fidel

Unionist wrote:

What's this - your alternative to Darwin's theory of the origin of species?

What would Darwin say? 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

How Edinburgh inspired Darwin's Origin of Species

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Darwin came to the city as a 16-year-old who had enrolled to study medicine. He lived in a house on Lothian Street, behind the new Robert Adam-designed university buildings, now known as Old College. The hospital where he was to study was on Infirmary Street, just yards away.

In Edinburgh he discovered a medical faculty whose lustre was dimming, though the subject still accounted for almost half the students of the university roll. The department was held to be corrupt (posts were often inherited) and lessons were regarded, certainly by Darwin, as boring. In 1828, the university was rocked by the scandal of Burke and Hare, whose murderous exploits were found to have been supplied corpses for anatomy classes.

Darwin soon gave up his medical studies. He disliked his lecturers and was squeamish about blood and bodily fluids. Instead, he turned to the city's astonishing array of clubs and societies for intellectual sustenance. Most importantly, Darwin fell in with Robert Edmond Grant, 16 years his senior, an eminent naturalist and freethinker who was to have a profound influence on his life.

Darwin's new mentor, taking his cue from French revolutionary scientists, believed that the origin and evolution of life were the result of chemical and physical forces, obeying natural laws. Grant was fascinated by sponges and other marine life, and took Darwin as his companion to Leith and Newhaven. The two befriended fishermen: they sailed out into the Firth of Forth to collect specimens, explored the Isle of May, even sheltered from a storm under Inchkeith Lighthouse.

Back on dry land, Grant rented a house close to the rocky shore at Prestonpans where, with Darwin, he collected and studied sea-pens, sea-mats and sponges, primitive creatures he believed held clues to the origins of all life. All this research prompted the young Darwin to make original observations, and he gave his first paper to the Plinian Society on the subject of sea-mat larvae and oyster shells.

[...]

Darwin spent much of his free time in the College Museum of Natural History, which was run by Robert Jamieson, an eminent natural historian. It was here that Darwin learnt taxidermy, taught by a freed slave, John Edmonstone. The relationship between a man of Darwin's class and a former slave was unconventional, yet Darwin's theories on natural selection owe much to this friendship. His consideration of all races being equal was a starting point for his theories on evolution.

Jamieson's keen interest in geology encouraged Darwin to explore around the city. Along Salisbury Crags, the extraordinary outcrop which dominates the skyline to the east of the city centre, he studied the formations which had fascinated James Hutton, the 18th-century geologist. These volcanic extrusions through sedimentary rocks undermined the prevailing "Neptunist" view that the Earth's rocks had been deposited in a great flood, and the world created in 4004 BC.

aside: my partner is organizing the sold-out event here in Edinburgh on Thursday. It was originally slated to be a 100-person-maximum gathering of a few academics. It has now switched venues and is more than fifteen times the originally expected size!

Ghislaine

If anyone here has The National Geographic Channel, they are running an excellent special series called [url=http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/episode/darwin-s-secret-notebooks-... Darwin's Secret Notebook [/url].  Watched last night and it was fascinating, documenting his 20 years of research and personal intellectual struggle prior to publishing his groundbreaking findings.

Fidel

Darwin on Women

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''Thus man has ultimately become superior to woman. It is, indeed, fortunate that the law of the equal transmission of characters to both sexes prevails with mammals; otherwise it is probable that man would become as superior in mental endowment to woman, as the peacock is in ornamental plumage to the peahen.''

Unionist

Fidel, your anti-scientific grasping at straws and attacks on Darwin remind me of those who try to attack the NDP by referring to Tommy Douglas's thesis on eugenics and his description of homosexuality as a "mental illness" in 1968.

Neither the legacy of Darwin nor that of Tommy Douglas will suffer from such ahistorical and prejudicial attacks.

Keep trying, though. Maybe we'll get back to "God created heaven and earth".

 

Fidel

Unionist wrote:

Fidel, your anti-scientific grasping at straws and attacks on Darwin remind me of those who try to attack the NDP by referring to Tommy Douglas's thesis on eugenics and his description of homosexuality as a "mental illness" in 1968.

Where did I say anything unscientific? Let's see you back that up, please. 

But that's okay, because while Tommy was the first western politician to denounce the Nazis, old  Mackenzie King said after meeting with him that Hitler's eyes were "liquid pools of sincerity"

And old Prescott Bush held dear his views on eugenics right into the 1950s at a time when those views became widely recognized as based in racism. Political conservatives tend to resist change moreso than anyone

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Was Mackenzie King a presbyterian?

Fidel

Catchfire wrote:
Was Mackenzie King a presbyterian?

Liberal

HeywoodFloyd

Unionist wrote:

What's this - your alternative to Darwin's theory of the origin of species?

yep. Von Daniken's origin of species.

Unionist

HeywoodFloyd wrote:
Unionist wrote:

What's this - your alternative to Darwin's theory of the origin of species?

yep. Von Daniken's origin of species.

Yesssss!!! Thank you Heywood, I couldn't for the life of me remember the name of that fraud who was making the rounds back in the early 70s or so. Ahh, the memories!

 

HeywoodFloyd

I read his stuff when I was a kid. I didn't know until I was about 19 that it wasn't written as fiction.

Fidel

Unionist wrote:
HeywoodFloyd wrote:
Unionist wrote:

What's this - your alternative to Darwin's theory of the origin of species?

yep. Von Daniken's origin of species.

Yesssss!!! Thank you Heywood, I couldn't for the life of me remember the name of that fraud who was making the rounds back in the early 70s or so. Ahh, the memories!

What's this, two old line party supporters propping one another up on a lefty forum? Where does that ever happen in reality? Forget I said that. We KNOW where that occurs on a regular basis for the last 140 years in a row.

And we're pretty sure Darwinian market forces wont be working to affect survival of the fittest banksters or corporate friendsters of the two old line parties in either the USSA or its northern colonial outpost, that's for sure. Wink

Unionist

HeywoodFloyd wrote:
I read his stuff when I was a kid. I didn't know until I was about 19 that it wasn't written as fiction.

Laughing I knew too many people who didn't realize that it wasn't written as fact! I argued myself hoarse ridiculing it, but to no avail. Once the MSM picked up on him, it was like challenging the Gospels.

Unionist

Fidel, namecalling? Like the old days?

Learn from old Darwin. Evolve.

Fidel

So Darwin was a male chauvinist and probably a Whig supporter. Who knew?

By the same token, I wonder which two slavish old line party supporters here couldnt care less about gender equality in Canada at the same time Darwinian market fundamentalism falls down around their ears?

 Wink <-- all-knowing cheeky wink

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Darwin may sound like a chauvinist but included in that link from Fidel is this:

 

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Nothing could be further from the truth, for one of the fundamental points of Darwin's book is that males and females are inexorably linked in their evolution, and that differences between the sexes must be viewed as responses to selection pressures that we may not yet understand.

 

I'd say his theory is holding true:

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It is, indeed, fortunate that the law of the equal transmission of characters to both sexes prevails with mammals

 

But for the word, "ultimately".  And for a man like Darwin it was a faux pas as would anyone believing in evolution use "ultimately"?   Chauvanistic for sure, but his theory also shows why.

Webgear

Tommy Douglas and Jack Layton must be gods (or at the very least god like) because they have never done anything wrong in their lives according to Fidel.

They are the prefect beings.

(Sorry for the thread drift)

______________________________________________________________________________________________ We are like cloaks, one thinks of us only when it rains.

Fidel

Webgear wrote:

Tommy Douglas and Jack Layton must be gods (or at the very least god like) because they have never done anything wrong their lives according to Fidel.

They are the prefect beings.

Compared to colonial administrators past and present, that sounds about right. The high water mark in Canada isnt as high as slavish old line party supporters let on.

Quote:
We are like cloaks, one thinks of us only when it rains.

I think of the Canadian army and what their next mission might be with every corporate US news update.

jacki-mo

Darwin even has awards named after him: 

http://www.darwinawards.com/

 

Snuckles

[url=http://www.gallup.com/poll/114544/Darwin-Birthday-Believe-Evolution.aspx]On Darwin’s Birthday, Only 4 in 10 Believe in Evolution[/url]

 

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PRINCETON, NJ -- On the eve of the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth, a new Gallup Poll shows that only 39% of Americans say they "believe in the theory of evolution," while a quarter say they do not believe in the theory, and another 36% don't have an opinion either way. These attitudes are strongly related to education and, to an even greater degree, religiosity.

Unionist

Not surprising that most U.S. folks don't believe in evolution. They certainly don't practise it.

al-Qa'bong

There are some, though, who are the products of Elvislution

Michelle

It's my mom's birthday today too!  And Abe Lincoln's!  Not that that has anything to do with anything.

Interesting stat re: 61% of Americans either not believing in evolution or not "having an opinion either way".  I guess the next time someone on babble says that most Americans are idiots, I won't be able to chastise them for making generalizations.

jacki-mo

I wonder what percent of Canadians believe in evoultion?

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Press release from Angus Reid:

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[VANCOUVER - June 18, 2007] – Canadians strongly believe humans developed through evolution, but they don’t quite understand what the theory means, a new Angus Reid Strategies poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample, three-in-five Canadians (59%) agree that human beings evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years. Just 22 per cent believe that God created human beings in their present form within the last 10,000 years—the theory of creationism espoused by the new Big Valley Creation Science Museum in Alberta, the country’s first creationist museum.

However, when asked if humans and dinosaurs co-existed on earth—a central tenet of creationism on display in the Big Valley Museum—42 per cent of respondents agree. Over one-third of Canadians (37%) disagree, in line with fossil records indicating that man developed millions of years after dinosaurs.

Respondents in Quebec are especially disbelieving of creationism. Just 9 per cent agree with the theory behind creationism, while seven-in-ten Quebeckers (71%) agree that the process of evolution is how humans developed. However, the province wound up being as split as the rest of the nation over whether dinosaurs and humans co-existed.

But Albertans were not more likely to believe in creationism than the rest of the country. Their views came very close to the national numbers, with 58 per cent registering belief in evolution as the process driving human development, and 42 per cent agreeing that dinosaurs and humans lived at the same time.

As well, younger Canadians, those living in households earning $100,000 or more a year, and those with university education are more likely to strongly believe in evolution, and more likely to disagree that humans and dinosaurs co-existed.

jacki-mo

Too many cartoons about cavemen and dino's. e.g.the Flintstones.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

[url=[/url]">http://www.google.ca/][/url]

Click on the picture.

 

[url=http://socialistworker.org/2009/02/12/darwins-revolutionary-ideas] Darwin's revolutionary ideas[/url]

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

[url=A">http://rabble.ca/columnists/valentine-mr-darwin][u]A Valentine for Mr. Darwin[/url]

Lord Palmerston

Fidel should take note:

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He was no social Darwinist. He never claimed progress was inevitable or those who survived and succeeded were inherently superior. Survival of the fittest wasn't even his phrase; it was Herbert Spencer's.

 

Lord Palmerston

Fidel should take note:

Quote:
He was no social Darwinist. He never claimed progress was inevitable or those who survived and succeeded were inherently superior. Survival of the fittest wasn't even his phrase; it was Herbert Spencer's.

Quote:

Although Darwin's theory can be applied to much beyond the evolution of organic life, I want to counsel against a different sense of Universal Darwinism. This is the uncritical dragging of some garbled version of natural selection into every available field of human discourse, whether it is appropriate or not.

Maybe the "fittest" firms survive in the marketplace of commerce, or the fittest theories survive in the scientific marketplace, but we should at very least be cautious before we get carried away. And of course there was Social Darwinism, culminating in the obscenity of Hitlerism.

 

 

George Victor

And Darwin's birthday has unleashed Margaret Wente on her favourite theme - nature versus nurture - and, of course, she provocatively sides with nature in her review of The 10,000 Year Explosion, by geneticist Henry Harpending and physicist/anthropologist Gregory Cochran.

Human mutations exploded with the population explosion that came with agriculture, goes the argument, thus speeding up evolution.

Margaret loves it.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Richard Dawkins wrote:
 

Darwin’s great idea has moved on. Twenty-first century evolutionary science, if Darwin could return to see it, would enthrall, excite, and amaze him. But he would recognize it as his own. We are just coloring in the details. For my money, the most important thinker the human species has ever produced was Charles Darwin.

I’ll end on a subtler legacy of Darwin’s big idea. Darwin raises our consciousness to the sinewy power of science to explain the large and complex in terms of the small and simple. In biology we were fooled for centuries into thinking that extravagant complexity in nature needs an extravagantly complex explanation. Darwin triumphantly dispelled that illusion. There remain big questions, in physics and cosmology, that await their own Darwins. Why are the laws of physics the way they are? Why are there laws at all? Why is there a universe at all? Once again, the lure of “design” is tempting, but we have the cautionary tale of Darwin before us. We’ve been through all that before. Darwin raised our consciousness, and we are emboldened to seek true explanations of genuine power.

[url=Source[/url]">http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=library&page=dawkins_29...

George Victor

Now if we can just bring the fundamentalists in line we might be able to save the species he discovered (and lots of others as well).

M. Spector M. Spector's picture