Tag Archives | Charles Darwin

Social Darwinism: The Problem of Eugenics

Darwin’s theory of evolution was adopted by those with progressive political agendas, particularly the improvement of the human race. It is not difficult to understand Darwin’s appeal to social progressives of the age. If Darwin allows us to understand the mechanism of evolution, might we be able to use that understanding to improve the quality of humanity? Or at least to prevent certain defective human beings from being born? these are contentious issues which will raise concerns for many readers. Yet we must consider how Darwin’s insights were applied by his successors, whether rightly or wrongly.

Photograph and Bertillon record of Francis Galton (age 73) created upon Galton's visit to Bertillon's laboratory in 1893.

Photograph and Bertillon record of Francis Galton (age 73) created upon Galton’s visit to Bertillon’s laboratory in 1893.


The first major attempt to apply Darwinian insights to safeguarding the human future was the eugenics movement which emerged in the first half of the twentieth century. The scientific basis of this movement seemed to be unassailable.… Read the rest

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Mystery of Darwin’s Strange South American Mammals Solved

“We have resolved one of the last unresolved major problems in mammalian evolution,” claims Ian Barnes of London’s Natural History Museum, as reported by the Guardian:

To 19th century British naturalist Charles Darwin, they were the strangest animals yet discovered, one looking like a hybrid of a hippo, rhino and rodent and another resembling a humpless camel with an elephant’s trunk.

Toxodon platensis.jpg

“Toxodon platensis” by Robert Bruce Horsfall


Ever since Darwin first collected their fossils about 180 years ago, scientists had been baffled about where these odd South American beasts that went extinct just 10,000 years ago fit on the mammal family tree. The mystery has now been solved.

Researchers have revealed that a sophisticated biochemical analysis of bone collagen extracted from fossils of the two mammals, Toxodon and Macrauchenia, demonstrated that they were related to the group that includes horses, tapirs and rhinos.

Some scientists previously thought the two herbivorous mammals, the last of a successful group called South American ungulates, were related to mammals of African origin like elephants and aardvarks or other South American mammals like armadillos and sloths.

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On the Origins of Money: Darwin and the Evolution of Cryptocurrency

Source: CoinDesk.com

Source: CoinDesk.com

Who knew Bitcoin and other varieties of so-called cryptocurrency could be so interesting? Writing for CoinDesk, Ryan Walker, an independent consultant and cryptocurrency enthusiast based out of Denver, Colorado, joins the dots between Darwin’s theory of evolution, fiat money and the rise of cryptocurrencies:

Charles Darwin first published his theory of natural selection in his book On the Origin of Species in 1859. The result of over 30 years of research, Darwin delivered to the world a new understanding of how modern species came to be, evolving over generations.

The son of a wealthy English family, Darwin was not a man in need of money. Nonetheless, for On the Origin of Species and his other publications, Darwin received royalties that were most likely paid in British Sterling.

Still in existence, the British Pound has origins dating back as far as 750 A.D. making it the world’s longest-surviving active currency.

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Rep. Paul Broun Facing Opposition from Write-in Candidate Charles Darwin

Photograph of Charles Darwin by Maull and Polyblank for the Literary and Scientific Portrait Club (1855)

Looks like we should all give the people of Georgia a little bit more credit. Via Raw Story:

Controversial U.S. Congressman Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) could be facing competition in this falls election from an unexpected quarter, a British naturalist who has been dead for 130 years, Charles Darwin, the so-called father of the theory of evolution.  According to the Associated Press, University of Georgia scientists and conservative talk-radio host Neil Boortz have found themselves to be unlikely allies in an effort to boost Darwin as a write-in candidate for voters who want to lodge a protest against the ultra-conservative Broun.

James Leebens-Mack, the UGA plant biologist who started a Facebook page supporting Darwin against Broun, told Raw Story in an interview, “Quite a few folks independently came up with the idea to start a write-in campaign, very conservative and very liberal.”

Leebens-Mack said that he’d be happy if write-ins for Darwin would constitute 1 percent of the vote, which he feels would be enough “to let both the Democratic and Republican parties know that we’re not happy that Paul Broun is our only choice in the 10th Congressional District of Georgia.”

The professor, who declined to give his own party affiliation, said that the bipartisan protest arose separately from the campaign organized by Boortz, the Atlanta-based radio host, who has a massive following among Georgia conservatives.  

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Tennesseans Evolved Thumbs After All

Courtesy of Brandt Hardin

Courtesy of Brandt Hardin

People think Tennesseans are remarkably stupid. Like the late Bill Hicks, who continually mocked my state during his comedy routines. “In many parts of our troubled world, people are yelling ‘Revolution!’” he ranted. “In Tennessee they’re yelling ‘Evolution! We want our thumbs!!‘” Whenever Tool or A Perfect Circle would come to town, singer Maynard Keenan always asked Tennessee audiences to put their thumbs in the air. As we held our opposable digits over our heads, Keenan came with the punch line: “Just making sure you have them.” What can I say? Stereotypes are hilarious.

So it is without resentment that this Tennessean wishes Charles Darwin a happy 203rd birthday today. I would love to celebrate with a heapin’ helpin’ of chilled monkey brains, but ’round these parts that would require cannibalizing the locals.

Despite the creationists’ best efforts, Darwin’s theory of natural selection reigns as the unifying concept in biology, and continues to give wider context to such disparate fields as ecology, epidemiology, and psychology.… Read the rest

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