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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Darwinist says "Let's Get Rid of Darwinism"



Good grief -- now they even have "I love Darwin" dog clothing. What won't they think of next?

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In a New York Times opinion piece titled "Let's Get Rid of Darwinism," Olivia Judson says,

I’d like to abolish the insidious terms Darwinism, Darwinist and Darwinian. They suggest a false narrowness to the field of modern evolutionary biology, as though it was the brainchild of a single person 150 years ago, rather than a vast, complex and evolving subject to which many other great figures have contributed. (The science would be in a sorry state if one man 150 years ago had, in fact, discovered everything there was to say.) Obsessively focusing on Darwin, perpetually asking whether he was right about this or that, implies that the discovery of something he didn’t think of or know about somehow undermines or threatens the whole enterprise of evolutionary biology today.

It does not. In the years ahead, I predict we will continue to refine our understanding of natural selection, and continue to discover new ways in which it can shape genes and genomes. Indeed, as genetic data continues to flood into the databanks, we will be able to ask questions about the detailed workings of evolution that it has not been possible to ask before.

Yet all too often, evolution — insofar as it is taught in biology classes at all — is taught as the story of Charles Darwin. Then the pages are turned, and everyone settles down to learn how the heart works, or how plants make energy from sunshine, or some other detail. The evolutionary concepts that unify biology, that allow us to frame questions and investigate the glorious diversity of life — these are ignored.

Darwin was an amazing man, and the principal founder of evolutionary biology. But his was the first major statement on the subject, not the last. Calling evolutionary biology “Darwinism,” and evolution by natural selection “Darwinian” evolution, is like calling aeronautical engineering “Wrightism,” and fixed-wing aircraft “Wrightian” planes, after those pioneers of fixed-wing flight, the Wright brothers. The best tribute we could give Darwin is to call him the founder — and leave it at that. Plenty of people in history have had an -ism named after them. Only a handful can claim truly to have given birth to an entire field of modern science.

How can Darwinists complain about being called "Darwinists" when they shamelessly worship Darwinism by means of Darwin Day celebrations, "I love Darwin" stuff (e.g., T-shirts, stickers, coffee mugs, and -- as shown above -- even dog clothing), "Friend of Darwin" certificates (conferred upon members of the Kitzmiller v. Dover plaintiffs team), celebrating the Lincoln-Darwin birthdate coincidence (the two men have nothing else in common), the Darwin-Wallace medal (conferred by the Linnean Society of London), etc.? And I have never heard a Darwinist who objects to the terms "Darwinist" and "Darwinism" repudiate this shameless worship of Darwin. BTW, I don't consider the Darwin-Wallace medal to be bad -- other medals are named for famous scientists, e.g., Fermi and Maxwell -- but it is part of Darwin worship, though just not bad like the other kinds.

One thing about the Wrights is that others independently developed the airplane at around the same time that they did. Samuel P. Langley's "Aerodrome" initially failed but later flew after being modified. Alberto Santos-Dumont and others in Europe independently developed airplanes.

BTW, Alfred Russel Wallace is often credited as being the co-discoverer of evolution theory but is generally overshadowed by Darwin. As noted above, the Linnean Society's medal is called the Darwin-Wallace medal.

Fourier's Law is indeed the fundamental concept underlying all of heat conduction analysis, but heat conduction analysis is not called "Fourierism," nor do heat transfer analysts celebrate Fourier Day, display "I love Fourier" stuff, etc.. LOL Well, maybe one of the reasons for that is that there are other modes of heat transfer, convection and radiation, that are defined by other principles.

Also, there we go again with that "evolution-is-the-fundamental-concept-underlying-all-of-biology" (as worded by the new Florida state standards) crap: "The evolutionary concepts that unify biology." That kind of slogan is just intended to be -- in the words of Kansas U. Prof. Paul Mirecki -- "a nice slap in the big fat face of the fundies."
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1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many people are even aware that there is a Darwin Day? I didn't know until after the Kitzmiller trial. Besides, are you a Washingtonist or an Idependentist because you don't get mail on President's Day or the 4th of July? Does that make your nationality a religion? If not, then how is that different from Darwin Day -- when mail isn't even stopped! Yes, I think that this whole Darwin Day is rather silly, but is it? After all, despite being the first to codify the theory of evolution (his grandfather wrote a lengthy epic poem describing evolution, among other contributors) and having the theory that he helped develop being taught in most universities (exception being some extremist religious universities, but not religious institutions like Notre Dame or even Southern-Baptist Baylor), it represents a minority view in the US population (though I wonder how many of those who say 'evolution with God's intervention' accept what Pope JP II accepted -- God before the big bang and God gave us a soul, neither of which contradicts contemporary evolutionary theory or even science in any meaningful (and certainly not testable) way).

So, yes, you might say I dislike the term Darwinist for the reasons stated in the editorial and I think Darwin Day is silly but harmless. How many Americans form a religious cult out of St Patrick's Day or Cinco de Mayo?

Sunday, July 20, 2008 7:58:00 PM  

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