Darwin texts online

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This week’s Nature reports on the expansion of John van Wyhe’s massive online archive of Darwin writings, hosted by the University of Cambridge. I believe it now includes all of Darwin’s books and articles (yes, Virginia, Darwin wrote journal articles), except maybe the second edition of Insectivorous Plants. The first edition was published in 1875, but was revised in 1888 by Francis Darwin. So maybe that is a grey area, but I can still whine about it.

29 Comments

This is great; it will be easier to print out copies of Darwins comments on “inferior” races, the intellectual “inferiority” of women, his remarks on vaccination weakening the race, and his praise for the Eugenicist Francis Galton.

That’s funny, just on a lark I searched the database on “eugenics” and “eugenic” and got zero hits in his writings (there is a hit on “eugenic” from his grandfather, and 2 from 20th-century commentators).

And I suppose you’re also against statistics, because Galton played a prominent role in founding that field.

And, for fun, search the database on “slavery”:

We have had some festivities on board; the day before yesterday there was a grand dinner on the quarter deck. - Cap Paget has paid us numberless visits & is always very amusing: he has mentioned in the presence of those who would if they could have contradicted him, facts about slavery so revolting, that if I had read them in England, I should have placed them to the credulous zeal of well-meaning people: The extent to which the trade is carried on; the ferocity with which it is defended; the respectable (!) people who are concerned in it are far from being exaggerated at home. - I have no doubt the actual state of by far the greater part of the slave population is far happier than one would be previously inclined to believe. Interest & any good feelings the proprietor may possess would tend to this. - But it is utterly false (as Cap Paget satisfactorily proved) that any, even the very best treated, do not wish to return to their countries. - “If I could but see my father & my two sisters once again, I should be happy. I never can forget them.” Such was the expression of one of these people, who are ranked by the polished savages in England as hardly their brethren, even in Gods eyes. - From instances I have seen of people so blindly & obstinately prejudiced, who in other points I would credit, on this one I shall never again scruple utterly to disbelieve: As far as my testimony goes, every individual who has the glory of having exerted himself on the subject of slavery, may rely on it his labours are exerted against miseries perhaps even greater than he imagines.

As for sexism, good luck finding many dead white males from the 1800s and before who were better than Darwin. As I understand it, John Stuart Mill was about the first prominent guy to break out of it.

On race, Darwin was at about the same place as Abraham Lincoln. Against slavery, but still retaining some less than enlightened notions.

Kimbleman;

Even if true, these social/political opinions would invalidate, say, natural selection, how exactly . …?

This is great; it will be easier to print out copies of Darwins comments on “inferior” races, the intellectual “inferiority” of women, his remarks on vaccination weakening the race, and his praise for the Eugenicist Francis Galton.

Generally, nimrods like these tend to be white male who are totally clueless on their own racism. They have the gall to try to teach people of color about the ins and outs of racism.

This is great; it will be easier to print out copies of Darwins comments…

This is obvious, but it bears repeating. What you did there is called an ad-hominem attack, whereby you attack the arguer and not the argument. It’s a fallacy, of course.

Whether or not Darwin condoned slavery, the superiority of the white race, or killed puppies for fun has no bearing whatsoever on the validity of his scientific theory of descent with modification.

Of course these are ad hominems.

And they are quite effective.

As you all know, because you use them frequently.

(I get a kick out of how you all excuse Darwins elitist racism as a “man of his times”. That as clear a statement of relativism as I have seen.)

By the way, want to strength the race! Don’t vaccinate your kids. (Charles Darwin)

Dear God, what’s wrong with us! Failing to blame someone for not rising above their times in all respects! Newton was a thief, racist, sexist pig, and all around bad-man, so gravity is bad! HITLER BELIEVED IN GRAVITY AS WELL! It’s clear that Newton led to Hitler, so reject atheistic gravity just-a-theory!

Seems Kimbleman is new, and not yet aware that creationists simply cannot be parodied. There is no way yet discovered to exaggerate the dishonesty of a creationist, though many have tried before and will again.

I posted this earlier, but it doesn’t seem to be arriving, so here we go again.

It has proved impossible to truly spoof creationist arguments in context. Simply put, there is no argument so stupid that you cannot find a creationist who will think it sounds cool and recite it. When “Oak trees ran for higher ground” and “Tigers used to eat fruit” are standard creationist responses, there’s really not much out of bounds of the aberrations. For some examples, see my Great Moments in Strange Creationism.

I have had some success spoofing them by moving their arguments to other contexts, such as:

A Parable: Creationist cops investigate crime!

Creationist logic applied to… creationism?

And, my personal favorite, Creationists Play Poker, featuring genuine creationists!

This is great; it will be easier to print out copies of Darwins comments on “inferior” races, the intellectual “inferiority” of women, his remarks on vaccination weakening the race, and his praise for the Eugenicist Francis Galton.

Like I said, sounds like the Republican Party platform.

Just add “repeal the capital gains tax”.

By the way, want to strength the race! Don’t vaccinate your kids. (Charles Darwin)

Anyone with an IQ above room temperature, of course, can do a Google search for “anti vaccine” and see, uh, what type of people habitually turn up . … .

Hint: It’s not “darwinists”.

And while you’re Googling, do a search for “Negro inferiority” and see who turns up.

Hint: It’s also not “darwinists”.

And toss in “inferiority of women” to get more Republicans — er, I mean, non-darwinists.

If you REALLY want some laughs, Goodle “anti-flouridation”.

That’s funny, just on a lark I searched the database on “eugenics” and “eugenic” and got zero hits in his writings (there is a hit on “eugenic” from his grandfather, and 2 from 20th-century commentators).

Want some more laughs? Go to an online version of Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” and do a search for “evolution” and “darwin”. Then do a search for “God” and “the Creator”.

Let us know what you find.

I shouldn’t feed the nitwit*,

(I get a kick out of how you all excuse Darwins elitist racism as a “man of his times”. That as clear a statement of relativism as I have seen.)

It’s not relativistic; it’s not even an excuse. His environment plus his genetic makeup made him sexist/racist/etc.

By the way, want to strength the race! Don’t vaccinate your kids. (Charles Darwin)

As has been pointed out, that’s true. If you were interested in improving the human species’ immune system, you should put selective pressure on strong immune systems.

* Calling somebody a nitwit is not an ad hominem argument. It’s an insult.

Good ideas cannot be kept down —

Today a new memorial for William Jasper Spillman was unveiled. Spillman was a Washington State University (Agricultural College in those days) scientist who in 1899 independently rediscovered Mendel’s Theory of Heredity through his wheat-breeding experiments on the Pa louse. … Still, Spillman is known as the “father of agricultural economics.”

Spillman was also the first coach of … the … football team. The team was undefeated in Spillman’s seven years as coach.

— from today’s student new paper.

And, my personal favorite, Creationists Play Poker, featuring genuine creationists!

My personal favorite too. For those of us who have had the misfortune to actually meet all the nutters mentioned, it is crashingly laugh-out-loud funny. And accurate.

Though, as I noted previously, it escapes me how you could mention Tong without also mentioning “red high heel shoes”. … . (grin)

(Note to those out there who don’t know who Tong is and don’t understand the “red high heels” reference – don’t ask. Trust me, you REALLY don’t want to know . … )

Flint Wrote:

Seems Kimbleman is new, and not yet aware that creationists simply cannot be parodied.

Nah, he’s not new; he’s been posting this over and over again even though he got refuted by half a dozen people the first time.

OTOH, that argues some sort of damage to his short-term memory, so maybe he still thinks he’s new?

I admit, I’m curious as to why he thinks that pretending Darwin was anti-vaccination would be an effective ad hominem. It’s not like Americans, particularly those with poor science educations, are rabid supporters of vaccination.…

Say, did Darwin evey say that negroes were inferior?

Charles Darwin argued that Tasmanian aboriginals were superior in their native habitat of Tasmania, as were most aboriginals much better “fitted” for survival than Europeans. The clauses that give creationists idiotic glee are the ones that note that Europeans, with guns, would probably displace the aboriginals, and the aboriginals would diminish in the overall population. Darwin lamented such injustices. Creationists mistake a telling of the facts as advocacy of the outcome, and then claim the outcome racist. Sure, it was racist for British colonists to conduct a war on the Tamanians. But the racism was almost wholly based in a creationist world view, the war having started before Darwin was born. Darwin merely reported the facts: Creationists, racists, drove the Tasmanians out of their homeland. One wonders at the ability of creationists to read narrative and figure out what is going on. (The story is told by Darwin over several volumes, including especially Descent of Man.)

Darwin himself joined the Wedgewood family campaign against slavery, calling it based on racism, contrary to principles that Christians should hold. As to African Americans, he compared their native intelligence to the greatest Roman generals of old (see Voyage of the Beagle).

Anyone who claims Darwin was racist is simply ignorant of the facts, or afraid of them (pick one, or choose both). Anyone who thinks Darwin the supreme gentleman, doting father and loving husband, was instead an advocate of genocide, has been sucked in by a monstrous deception.

Non-racists, anti-racists and humanitarians, and others interested in spreading the truth and good news, will not continue to broadcast such falsehoods.

Darwin’s work on insectivorous plants and on how vines twine around standing objects provide a wonderful view into how experiments and observations should be made. Their easy access will go a distance toward educating people on how science really works, and how it should work.

The wackoes will quote mine the material if they can. It behooves us to become familiar with Darwin’s writings at least so we can see when his views are being distorted.

The interesting thing about Kimbleman’s post is how it reveals the authoritarian nature of Creationists’ world view. For them, there is no seperating the man from the ideas, because there is no such thing as objective truth to them. All that matters is the authority making the statement. God said it, therefore it is true. Moses said it, therefore it is true. Jesus said it, therefore it is true. My pastr sad it, therefore it is true. I once had a fundie respond to my comment that some things in the Bible were true and some were not with “But how are you supposed to know which is which?” The concept of objective factual study of an object is ananathema to them.

Combine their authoritarianism with their faith in their gut (wonderfully examined in a recent article called “Welcome to Idiot america”, google it), and it’s clear why no amount of facts will persuade them. Moths were glued onto trees, therefore the whole book they were in is false, and all the theories with it. Black and white. Besides, they just know in their hearts that it makes no sense. God gave them their intuitions, so they can’t be wrong. And so on.

People like Kimbleman will never accept evolution, because it violates his gut instinct (common sense if you prefer the secular version), and because there is no perfect supporting authority. All we can do is laugh at him, or pity him, depending on the moment.

Ricky Wrote:

Say, did Darwin evey say that negroes were inferior?

A previously attempted post on this topic vanished into the ether, but: no, if you look through the archive above, you’ll see that he several times praises the intelligence and character of blacks, often in comparison to whites. He does the same for aboriginal Australians, too.

Not that he didn’t believe some ethnic groups were on average mentally inferior to others, but

a) negroes apparently weren’t one of the inferior ones, b) he considered the differences between groups small compared to the differences within groups and between humans and other apes, so that even the most “savage” groups like the Tierra Del Fuegans were still remarkably like the English in their mentality, and c) he thought various groups’ mental abilities fluctuated over time, correlating with their cultural evolution.

So the smartest people ever were the ancient Greeks, but their descendants weren’t as clever; a century or so before Darwin the smartest people were the Spanish, who dominated the Western world at the time; now the English were very smart but the Americans were surpassing them. Negroes, Darwin seems to have thought, were artificially held back in their cultural development by slavery, and due to their native intelligence and ability would soon come to rule the areas of South America where they lived.

Racism, certainly, but a very different version from the traditional racism espoused by Americans and Europeans up through The Bell Curve.

Some quotes from Darwin on negroes. Incidentally, his goodwill toward them and his fierce opposition to slavery were a family trait–for at least a generation before him, the Wedgwoods and Darwins had been strong and active abolitionists.

By the way, a negro lived in Edinburgh, who had travelled with Waterton, and gained his livelihood by stuffing birds, which he did excellently: he gave me lessons for payment, and I used often to sit with him, for he was a very pleasant and intelligent man.

MY DEAR SIR,—My wife has just finished reading aloud your ‘Life with a Black Regiment,’ and you must allow me to thank you heartily for the very great pleasure which it has in many ways given us. I always thought well of the negroes, from the little which I have seen of them; and I have been delighted to have my vague impressions confirmed, and their character and mental powers so ably discussed.

I never saw anything more intelligent than the Negros, especially the Negro or Mulatto children. - they all immediately perceived & are astonished at the percussion guns, - they examine every thing with the liveliest attention, & if you let them the children chattering away, will pull everything out of your pockets to examine them it. - My silver pencil case was pulled out & much speculated upon. - When catching a stinging ichneumon, the children pinched themselves

From this results the safety of the country. The slaves must communicate amongst themselves in Portugeese & are not in consequence united. - I cannot help believing they will ultimately be the rulers. I judge of it from their numbers, from their fine athletic figures, (especially contrasted with the Brazilians) proving they are in a congenial climate, & from clearly seeing their intellects have been much underrated. - they are the efficient workmen in all the necessary trades. - If the free blacks increase in numbers (as they must) & become discontented at not being equal to white men, the epoch of the general liberation would not be far distant.

This posta was commanded by a negro lieutenant, born in Africa: to his credit be it said, there was not a rancho between the Colorado and Buenos Ayres in nearly such neat order as his.…I did not any where meet a more civil and obliging man, than this negro; it was therefore the more painful to see that he would not sit down and eat with us.

This spot is notorious from having been, for a long time, the residence of some runaway slaves, who, by cultivating a little ground near the top, contrived to eke out a subsistence. At length they were discovered, and a party of soldiers being sent, the whole were seized with the exception of one old woman, who sooner than again be led into slavery, dashed herself to pieces from the summit of the mountain. In a Roman matron this would have been called the noble love of freedom: in a poor negress it is mere brutal obstinacy.

Hurrah for the honest Whigs! I trust they will soon attack that monstrous stain on our boasted liberty, Colonial Slavery. I have seen enough of slavery and the dispositions of the negroes, to be thoroughly disgusted with the lies and nonsense one hears on the subject in England.

I think I link to a J. Van Wyhe publication from my site. Same paper as Anton provided a link for on the G. ANDREWSEA fish-fossil thread. This paper is Sir Richard Owen’s unsigned review of O.O.S.. Correct me if I am wrong. At the head of this paper is an introduction - by Van Wyhe himself, I suppose(?) - which says something to the effect that Owen poured scorn on Darwin’s theories whilst praising his own. The implication is given that Owen was unprofessional, self-glorifying, and vicious. Believing implicitly that this was what I would find, I did manage to wade through a substantial part of the paper. Owen can be a difficult read. I was surprised. I found little along the lines of the opinions expressed in the introduction. I actually e-mailed Van Wyhe, mentioning Owen and a few related matters, but, as I recall, got no reply.

I would like to see quotes from this review that match the introductory criticism of Owen by the (?)publisher. If they do exist, so be it: if not, this is a case of substandard scholarship and is the sort of behaviour that misleads opinions and shuts down enquiry.

The article Heywood’s talking about is here.

Philip Bruce Heywood Wrote:

At the head of this paper is an introduction - by Van Wyhe himself, I suppose(?) - which says something to the effect that Owen poured scorn on Darwin’s theories whilst praising his own. The implication is given that Owen was unprofessional, self-glorifying, and vicious. Believing implicitly that this was what I would find, I did manage to wade through a substantial part of the paper. Owen can be a difficult read. I was surprised. I found little along the lines of the opinions expressed in the introduction.

We’ve got an anonymous review of someone else’s book, a review which promotes Owen’s own theories in the 3rd person and derides various supporters of the book as a “dispenser of the hour’s intellectual amusement” and “[him] who may deem himself devoid of soul and as the brute that perisheth,” a review which spends an entire paragraph complaining that the first sentence of the Origin includes nonhuman species in the term “inhabitants.” How could this not be unprofessional, self-glorifying and vicious?

Do you think professional scientists usually praise their own work over that of the subject author in unsigned reviews?

Heywood does have a point.

Van Wyhe is an inaccurate and a biased chronicler, at least in the case of Owen. In his online publication on Richard Owen, Van Wyhe states: “Owen pushed his way to the hights of Victorian science”. He implies that Owen got to the top through politics. He then contradicts this statement when he per force mentions Owen’s world-leading achievements. He uses the term, “fawning elitism”, in describing Owen, without providing any historical evedence, to explain what he means. He reapeatedly states that Owen was an opponent of evolution. Owen was in fact a leading exponent of evolution. Van Wyhe labels Owen’s anonymous review of THE ORIGION OF THE SPECIES, “notorious”. He provides no documentation to explain why it was notorious. He assumes that everyone will agree with him, but gives no reason for them to do so.

In his introduction to this so-called notorious review Van Wyhe makes three statements for wich there appears to be no foundation. 1). “Owen vaccilated between accepting and denying evolution”. As we have already noted, Owen was a world-leading evolutionist. 2). “Owen argued for a confusing theory of ‘the continuous opperation of the ordained becoming of living things’”. Other science historians at least attempted to show us what Owen meant. Much of the confusion apparently lies with Van Wyhe. 3). “In addition to throwing scorn at Darwin’s ideas, Owen heaped praise on his own!” There is little if any evidence of Owen praising himself in this “notorious” review, and if it does exsist, Van Wyhe fails to document it.

Dan H Wrote:

He reapeatedly states that Owen was an opponent of evolution. Owen was in fact a leading exponent of evolution.

No, he wasn’t. Owen had his own theory of the transmutation of species, which denied the role of natural selection and the common descent of man with apes.

3). “In addition to throwing scorn at Darwin’s ideas, Owen heaped praise on his own!” There is little if any evidence of Owen praising himself in this “notorious” review, and if it does exsist, Van Wyhe fails to document it.

Really, all you have to do is read the thing:

“Professor Owen has pointed out the numerous instances in the animal kingdom of a principle of structure prevalent throughout the vegetable kingdom, exemplified by the multiplication of organs in one animal performing the same function, and not related to each other by combination of powers for the performance of a higher function. The Invertebrate animals, according to the Professor, afford the most numerous and striking illustration of the principles which he has generalised as the ‘Law of Irrelative Repetition.’”

“In addition, therefore, to the organising principle, however explained, producing the special ‘adaptations,’ and admitted as the ‘second’ power in the production of species by Vestiges, Professor Owen states–“

“We are aware that Professor Owen and others, who have more especially studied the recently discovered astounding phenomena of generation summed up under the terms Parthenogenesis and Alternation of Generations, have pronounced against those phenomena have, as yet, helped us ‘to penetrate the mystery of the origin of different species of animals,’ and have affirmed, at least so far as observation has yet extended, that ‘the cycle of changes is definitely closed;”

“Owen has shown that the more generalised structure is, in a very significant degree, a characteristic of many extinct as compared with recent animals; and it may be readily conceived that specialisation of structure would be the result of the progressive modification of any organ applied to a special purpose in the animal economy.”

“Owen has not failed to apply the more recent discoveries of Parthenogenesis to the same mysterious problem.”

“We would accordingly assure Professor Owen that he ‘may conceive the existence of such ministers, personified as Nature, without derogation of the Divine power;’ and that he, with other inductive naturalists, may confidently advance in the investigation of those ‘natural laws or secondary causes to which the orderly succession and progression of organic phenomena have been committed.’ “

“Owen has long stated his belief that some pre-ordained law or secondary cause is operative in bringing about the change; but our knowledge of such law, if such exists, can only be acquired on the prescribed terms. We, therefore, regard the painstaking and minute comparisons by Cuvier of the osteological and every other character that could be tested in the mummified ibis, cat, or crocodile, with those of the species living in his time; and the equally philosophical investigations of the polypes operating at an interval of 30,000 years in the building up of coral reefs, by the profound palæontologist of Neuchatel, as of far higher value in reference to the inductive determination of the question of the origin of species that the speculations of Demaillet, Buffon, Lamarck, ‘Vestiges,’ Baden Powell, or Darwin.”

“At present, all discussions on principal theories and experiments in the field (of chemical and molecular evolution) either end in stalemate or in a confession of ignorance.” (Klaus, The Origin of Life; More Questions than Answers)

While many pro I.D. debaters lean towards the complexity of the eye to discredit evolution, evolution can be dismantled simply by the law of Irreducible Complexity and the bacterium cell’s flagellum, or motor.

“Irreducible Complexity was coined by Mike Behe and describes these molecular machines. Basically what it says is that you have multicomponent parts to any organelle or system to a cell, all of which are necessary for function. That is if you remove one part, you loose function of that system” (Minnich, Case for a Creator).

Comprehending that, you must also bring to account Darwin established a way to disprove his own theory.

“If it could be demonstrated any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down” (Darwin, Origins).

Unfortunately for Darwin and his evolutionist disciples, the flagellum is that said complex organ.

“…there are about forty different protein parts which are necessary for this machine to work. And if any of those parts are missing, then either you get a flagellum that doesn’t work … or it doesn’t get built in the cell. You can’t put something like that together gradually ‘cause they need a large number of parts interacting at the same time before they work at all” (Case for a Creator).

In Darwin’s time, when they thought cells were just globs of protoplasm, his theory could very well be valid. In today, with the proven and known complexities of a living cell, its just not possible. Darwin apologists should stop defending evolution, admit to being wrong, and apologize.

There must be scientific alternatives to evolution. Why don’t we rely on those now that we know the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.

As stated in a biology textbook:

“All scientific work is ultimately based on certain assumptions that are accepted by faith. These presuppositions are the basis for one’s philosophy, or worldview. To scientists of the past who made the biological discoveries, the faith was in creation and the fact that the created world is orderly and predictable. To a person of today who support evolution, the faith is often in materialism, or naturalism.”

Speculations on the origins of life is a historical science, not an emperical science.

“Three things characterized … approach to solving scientific problems and answering puzzling questions about the physical universe: theoretical speculation, accurate observation, and precise experimentation.” To paraphrase, anything that can be replicated in a lab or nature. Unfortunately, “… the explanations of a historian are held to no such standard or discipline. This allows the historian’s explanation to be subjective, influenced not only by supportive data but also by imagination, philosophy, and religious (or nonreligious) views” (Harris, Intelligent Design; Scientific Alternative to Evolution).

I don’t blame Darwin for having a disproved theory. Hell if I could come up with it. But its been proven wrong, which people just can’t accept.

But why don’t we focus on scientific alternatives?

Hey, babe, take a walk on the wild side.

Challenge your own preconceptions with a healthy dab of fact.

Google “flagellum” and “complexity.” Heck, just search that term on this blog. You’ll find a wealth of discussion that should lead you to question the “irreducible” nature of whatever complexity–that poorly defined, I-know-it-when-I-see-it term–the flagellum might be said to possess.

You might want to search for a transcript of the Dover trial and read the cross-examination of Dr. Behe carefully. Several times through.

Should you actually get that far, report back.

I don’t think it will be us who will be doing any apologizing, but we’ll be happy to discuss it further once you’ve left the cut-and-pasting behind and actually learned a little bit about the topic.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on October 18, 2006 10:48 PM.

Carl Zimmer in National Geographic on flagellum evolution was the previous entry in this blog.

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