Darwin Correspondence Project in NY Times

| 13 Comments

The New York Times has a good story on the Darwin Correspondence Project, which now has 5,000 Darwin letters online. Some good bits are in there. Darwin when he was 12:

Just as I was going, she said she must ask me not a very decent question, that was whether I wash all over every morning — no — then she said it was quite disgustin — then she asked me if I did every other morning, and I said no — then she said how often I did, and I said once a week, then she said of cour you wash your feet every day, and I said no, then she begun saying how very disgusting and went on that way a good while. …so then I went and told erasmus, and he bust out in laughing and said I had better tell he to come and wash them her self, besides that she said she did not like sitting by me or Erasmus for we smelt of not washing all over, there we sat arguing away for a good while.

And then we have Darwin writing to Asa Gray on slavery in 1861 (amongst discussing carnivorous plants, orchids, scientific method, and a brief reference to their continuing discussion over the Design argument):

I cannot believe that the South would ever have fellow-feeling enough with the North to allow of government in common. Could the North endure a Southern President? The whole affair is a great misfortune in the progress of the World; but I shd not regret it so much, if I could persuade myself that Slavery would be annihilated. … I sometimes wish the contest to grow so desperate that the north would be led to declare freedom as a diversion against the Enemy. … But Heaven knows why I trouble you with my speculations; I ought to stick to Orchids.

Abraham Lincoln of course did just this in 1862 with the Emancipation Proclamation.

Here is some other fun-with-the-Darwin-database, not mentioned in the article: Search for Darwin’s views on “intelligent Design” and “special creation” (apparently a term coined by Herbert Spencer around 1850), “eugenics,” “slavery,” and Venus Flytraps and their relatives.

While I’m discussing Darwin quotes, I just have to mention the fantastically juvenile quote-mine creationist Salvador Cordova has been spreading around the internet trying to smear Darwin as a degenerate puppy-beater. Most recently on Sal’s own blog:

May 16, 2007 Darwin’s Victim Filed under: Darwinism — scordova @ 10:41 am

I beat a puppy, I believe, simply from enjoying the sense of power.

Charles “Gas” Darwin

Yes, the puppy pic is original. Nice one, Sal! Fortunately anyone with two brain cells stuck together can google a bit and figure out the source. This comes not from Darwin’s letters, but from his Autobiography, which is online at The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online, darwin-online.org.uk. Stick the “I beat a puppy” quote in the search engine and you get the hits. From p. 27 of the original unedited Autobiography:

Once as a very little boy, whilst at the day-school, or before that time, I acted cruelly, for I beat a puppy I believe, simply from enjoying the sense of power; but the beating could not have been severe, for the puppy did not howl, of which I feel sure as the spot was near to the house. This act lay heavily on my conscience, as is shown by my remembering the exact spot where the crime was committed. It probably lay all the heavier from my love of dogs being then, and for a long time afterwards, a passion. Dogs seemed to know this, for I was an adept in robbing their love from their masters.

(Sal’s quote bolded)

Hmm, the context turns that around a bit, I’d say.

13 Comments

Which is why Sal makes for such a good example of an ID ‘scientist’ imho

You have to wonder how Sal and his cohorts can keep quote-mining when they know that we know they are doing it and we keep records and the contexts from which they quote-mine. There are even 130+ examples for all to peruse at TalkOrigins.org.

This can’t be from just a severe denseness. It has to be political. They are using the tactics of the “Swift Boaters” by flooding the media with junk faster than the junk can be corrected. Even exposing this tactic elicits the response from them that we are doing the same thing.

It looks extremely churlish and childish. But they know their followers never check anything that is not screened and adulterated (nice pun, even though not intended) by their religious handlers.

Comment #177296

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 20, 2007 5:15 PM (e) | kill

You have to wonder how Sal and his cohorts can keep quote-mining when they know that we know they are doing it and we keep records and the contexts from which they quote-mine. There are even 130+ examples for all to peruse at TalkOrigins.org.

Look around the ID blogs–even once they knew the larger context, all the IDers supported Sal against the charge of quote-mining. So it’s easy to see why Sal keeps doing it. It works. He’s lying to people who want to hear lies.

Nice find!

The fact that Darwin was troubled by something (mild) he did as a child throughout his entire life speaks volumes about his moral fiber. He was ahead of his time on issues like emancipation and anti-vivisectionism. Wikipedia has another quote of his about the latter, “You ask about my opinion on vivisection. I quite agree that it is justifiable for real investigations on physiology; but not for mere damnable and detestable curiosity. It is a subject which makes me sick with horror, so I will not say another word about it, else I shall not sleep to-night.” (letter to Ray Lankester March 22, 1871). In fact, Darwin remains ahead of this time on many ethical issues.

Salvador left the same line on a post over at the KCFS forum, and we called him on it: a despicable (I used that word) bit of dishonesty on his part. Our general consensus is that we don’t see how the man can live with himself. Go to http://www.kcfs.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=524 to see what we have to say, and if you are masochistic enough to want to see how Sal responded to us calling him on this.

I sometimes wish the contest to grow so desperate that the north would be led to declare freedom as a diversion against the Enemy.… But Heaven knows why I trouble you with my speculations; I ought to stick to Orchids.

I wonder if/when he heard about that actually happening.

Henry

Cordoba:

My 11 year old has a better concept of integrity than you. Do you understand what a “lie” is, or are you hoping that if ever called to testify in a court of law, you will escape by pleading the intellectual and moral maturity of a 4 year old? Calling yourself a Christian apologist is an insult to 2 thousand years of intellectual, theological history. Hell, with telling little pieces of crap like that, calling yourself a Christian is an insult to millions who try to adhere the principle of honesty. Or can you show me the new testament quote where it says “lying is OK when necessary to corrupt and smear things that might conflict your ideology.” Was that Paul or John?

Henry J wrote: I wonder if/when he heard about that actually happening.

He wrote to Asa Gray in 1866 exulting over the end of slavery. The legal end in the US was in 1865 with the 13th amendment.

Sal likes quotemining. It’s what he does. I think it’s a point of pride with him never to quote anyone in support of the actual argument they were making.

I’d like to beat Sal to the point where he could never lie or quote mine again, simply from enjoying making the world a better place.

Yes, the puppy pic is original. Nice one, Sal!

Thanks, Nick. You da man.

I’d like to mention another quote form Darwin. He said of himself:

I was nicknamed “Gas.”

Charles “Gas” Darwin Autobiography

I’d like to mention another quote form Darwin. He said of himself:

I enjoy pointing out to you that your use of yet ANOTHER quotemine of Darwin has also already been adressed.

You’re not too quick on the uptake, are you, Slaveador?

Popper’s Ghost lobbed one Sal’s way thusly:

I’d like to beat Sal to the point where he could never lie or quote mine again, simply from enjoying making the world a better place.

Or, as Sal would put it:

“Popper’s Ghost said: ‘I…like…Sal…simply from enjoying making the world a better place. [H]e could never lie or quote mine.’”

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on May 20, 2007 3:17 PM.

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