Mark Liberman has more on that profile of Deborah Cameron which prompted me to investigate just what Cameron meant by Darwinist. He applies the notion of sentiment classification, the idea that one can gauge how a writer feels about the subject by applying an algorithmic approach. Often, this involves counting up the number of characteristic words or short word sequences: in a book review, “a must” tends to indicate a positive overall impression, whereas “don’t waste” is indicative of a negative opinion. (A breakdown of Amazon reader reviews, comparing the comment text to the numerical ranking, indicates that you’d much rather see “grisham” in the review of your novel than “predictable.”) Indicator words vary among settings, and what is negative or positive in one context is not necessarily weighted the same in another.
Liberman applies this to Ed Caesar’s profile of Cameron, noting that Caesar uses snippets like “rather prosaically,” “pet peeves,” “irked” and “bludgeoning its brains out” — all of which tend to indicate that the writer of the article has a somewhat negative view of the subject.
Of course, the same technique is applicable to whatever Cameron says, too. In fact, after working through some background material, I’d say that Darwinist and Darwinian are, for her, negative indicators, much as they seem to be for anybody outside of British evolutionary biology departments.