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8 Comments

    • The algorithm
    • Posted Wednesday, 16 July 2008 at 12:50 pm
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    Offtopic: A British(!) evolutionary biologist argues for getting rid of the term Darwinism.

  1. Well, considering that it appears to be mostly the British who have kept using it, it’s about time they put their own house in order.

    • The algorithm
    • Posted Wednesday, 16 July 2008 at 17:10 pm
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    (Right — was posting w/reference to that, not because I didn’t know you’d written it.)

  2. Understood. I think Judson’s piece made a fine argument for getting rid of the D-word; what was (to my eye) missing was the discussion of who actually uses it. No doubt space constraints were a factor, but it still bugs me. Not all scientists have to give up the term, since many of them don’t use it.

    • The algorithm
    • Posted Wednesday, 16 July 2008 at 17:34 pm
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    And, sadly, she wrote it on an American publication’s site (albeit one that some Brits probably read).

    • manigen
    • Posted Wednesday, 16 July 2008 at 18:16 pm
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    I’m not sure that it would be a good idea to stop using Darwinism as a shorthand for The Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection, in the UK at least. Two reasons:

    1) Creationists aren’t really a problem in the UK. They exist, and there’s the odd example of them trying to take over a school, but everyone knows that they’re crazy.

    2) Darwin was British. Don’t underestimate how important this can be in getting people in the UK to pay attention when you talk about evolution. National pride is a strong motivator, and there’s a lot of national pride in being able to lay claim to one of the all time top heavyweight geniuses of the world.

    Both of these arguments only apply to UK scientists talking to a UK audience.They both break down when a scientist is speaking in a forum that is visible to the US.

  3. Funnily enough, I already knew which planet was almost called George, since I was just a few weeks ago helping my son find information on the planet in question for a speech on his term project on the solar system.

  4. Hmmmm.

    If creationists aren’t really a problem in the UK, must we play on national pride at every opportunity? :-/

    Perhaps a balance could be struck: we could lean on the Darwin name but shift the emphasis, perhaps using elocutions like “the neo-Darwinian synthesis” or “the Darwin–Wallace principle of natural selection” (the latter following Kutschera).


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