Talk:Lynn Margulis

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Early life / materialism[edit]

What was Lynn Margulis' childhood like? How many siblings did she have?

I think it should be noted that Margulis isn't an anti-materialist, like some seem to think. She even defend the idea that "life" is a too vitalistic word and should be remplaced by "living matters" to put emphasis on the fact that life is organized matters.


Any relation to Norman Margulis ? (see Cellular Automata Machines book by Tommaso Toffoli and Norman Margulis (1987) )--DavidCary 00:31, 10 Sep 2004 (UTC)

All over the 'pedia[edit]

Is it just me, or does Lynn have references all over the Wikipedia? I respect that she may have some nice ideas, but every little article that she might have something to do with has a paragraph on her. This is exceptional treatment, I've not seen it elsewhere in the Wikipedia. 23:47, 26 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I have no idea if there is "too much", inappropriate material about her here and there -- but more likely there is TOO LITTLE information about others! Wikipedia should actually be at least 10-100 times bigger. Add some information! 13:38, 19 September 2006 (UTC)

"Her" theory?[edit]

This article implies very strongly the endosymbiotic theory was completely Margulis's idea, that it was novel and revolutionary. The article on endosymbiotic theory seems to disagree. The quote from Dawkins also seems to be intentionally taken out of context to change what it refers to. My reading of the linked quote is that Dawkins admires Margulis for sticking up for an unpopular theory, not for coming up with it. I'll let this sit for a while in hope of some comments, but if I don't see anything soon, I'll go in and do some rewriting. —HorsePunchKid 04:35, 27 September 2005 (UTC)

I agree with these observations. Looking at Talk:Endosymbiotic theory, it seems that page once had a similar tone to this one, but was fixed up (with appropriate credit given to the Russian guy who initially proposed the theory). On this page, I particularly don't care for the line:
She was criticized as a radical and her scientific work was rejected by mainstream biology for many years. Her work has more recently received widespread support and acclaim.
There are a lot of reasons why biologists might have not accepted the endosymbiotic theory, other than that they were a bunch of closed-minded idiots (which is what the above text implies). I'll see if there are any changes to make this page more neutral, but if not, I'll come back and remove the more egregiously false claims. --Saforrest 23:55, 6 November 2005 (UTC)
Regardless of whose idea it was initially (science is full of refined ideas taken from others and backed up by more proof, and the last person to make the point best gets the credit), the fact is that Lynn Margulis is associated with the theory nowadays - and no one else is. Furthermore, she was the first microbiologist to formulate the theory coherently, have microbiological evidence to support it, tie it in with Mendelian genetics and Darwinism, and put it out there as a 'competitor' to Neodarwinist theories of that time. I fixed the entire Research part up to reflect this. --Scyfer 13:52, 8 February 2006 (UTC)
Also, Dawkins doesn't have any qualms with Margulis taking credit for the theory. The quote isn't taken out of context; Dawkins disagreed with her theory for decades - until genetic evidence actually showed that she was right (and that mitochondrial genomes _were_ distinct). He's gruffly conceding a defeat and congratulating her for holding out so long in the face of MANY of them (Dawkins and Gould and Lewontin and all the other neodarwinists, who also fight amongst themselves to see whose theory is right (and none of them are incompatible with each other by the way)) criticizing her ideas. --Scyfer 14:31, 8 February 2006 (UTC)

In fact, you have it all wrong. The first to come up with the endosymbiont idea was Franz Andreas Wilhelm Schimper. If you can't find it here, look into the German WP. But we won't learn another language just to know more facts and debunk history lies, will we? Oh, the relevant work is available as scan: [1]. -- (talk) 08:25, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

Schimper is duly mentioned in the Endosymbiotic theory article itself; ". . . who had himself tentatively proposed (in a footnote) that green plants had arisen from a symbiotic union of two organisms;" he has his own article, in which this rather minor contribution goes un-noted; and in this article is subsumed (not entirely accurately, I agree) in the reference to "symbiosis ideas first put forward by mid-19th century scientists," so this article neither denies his original contribution such as it was, nor does it claim that Margulis came up with the whole idea first. There is a large difference between merely proposing a possible explanation of something - which Schimper did, in an era before Mendelian theory and DNA were known - and expanding its scope, carrying out detailed observations, discovering good and extensive evidence for it, integrating it with currently accepted mechanisms, and persistently promoting it in the face of concerted opposition - which is what Margulis did. No-one is interested in stealing whatever thunder Schimper is entitled to: perhaps you, or someone else both bilingual and with access to the relevant material, could redress the perceived imbalance by inproving Schimper's own article. (talk) 16:28, 5 July 2009 (UTC)

Maybe someone should add this to the English WP article on Schimper. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:43, 3 November 2009 (UTC)


She grew up in Chicago, where her parents were usually quarrelling and she had to do most everything for herself. While growing up she had 3 sisters and then later, after she was married with kids of her own she had, I think, 4 siblings (3 1/2 brothers and a 1/2 sister) from her father's side.


Anybody know of any good journal articles about both her and the endosymbiotic theory? cheers

Acquiring genomes[edit]

Rewriting my earlier statement. I feel that the section on endosymbiosis could be dealt with more clearly if the quotes were moved to the correct location (further down) and her ideas were presented with mentions of where/when they have been presented. For example, her theories on organelles should be separated from her theories on genetic recombination in bacteria. Ladlergo Dec 22, 2005


"We find the paucity of evidence published in standard peer-reviewed primary scientific journals that leads to the conclusion that "HIV causes AIDS" appalling. No amount of moralizing censorship, rhetorical tricks, consensus of opinion, pulling rank, obfuscation, ad hominem attacks or blustering newspaper editorials changes this fact. The conflation "HIV-AIDS" may be good marketing but is it science? No." — Amazon review of Harvey Bialy's Oncogenes, Aneuploidy, and AIDS 08:12, 20 July 2006 (UTC)

Minor edit[edit]

I've removed the reference to an honorary degree she received from Bates College. It seems some overly enthusiastic Bates alum has been adding such references to articles about everyone who has been so honored in recent years. It would be one thing to include the degree in a list of other honors, but mentioning that degree alone detracts from the article and interrupts its flow. It also doesn't do much for Bates, since the school seems to have played no other role in her life beyond giving her the honorary degree. Bates has enough accomplishments worth being proud of and doesn't need such lame boosterism.

I don't know how to edit Wikipedia, can someone fix this mess here:[edit]

"Although it draws heavily on symbiosis ideas first put forward in the mid-19th century scientists as well as the early 20th century work she iz a bitch Wallin|Wallin]] (1920), Margulis's endosymbiotic theory formulation is the first to rely on direct microbiological observations (as opposed to paleontological or zoological observations which were previously the norm for new works in evolutionary biology)."

the sentence is a mess and why is "she iz a bitch" inserted?

thanks Blackskimmer 02:17, 5 January 2007 (UTC)Blackskimmer

thanks for fixin it! long live lynn margulis.

RAS or RANS ?[edit]

The link for "Russian Academy for Natural Sciences" leads to the "Russian Academy of Sciences", which is a completely different thing. RAS is an authoritative scientific body, while RANS is a latter-day refuge for lots of "alternative scientists", i.e. cranks. This question should be clarified. -- 12:15, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Sources for AIDS dissident[edit]

I've removed the info on Margulis being an AIDS dissident, based on a lack of reliable sources. The item was sourced to an book review (?!?!) and a few comments in the "responses" section of blogs. These clearly fail Wikipedia's guidelines for attribution, as anyone could log in to or post responses on a blog claiming to be Lynn Margulis. As this is a living person, we should be especially circumspect. The item could be reinserted if reliable sources can be found. MastCell Talk 05:25, 18 March 2007 (UTC)

It's her words, MastCell. She wrote the review, and the owner of the blog has PERSONALLY CONFIRMED THIS. YOu can't censor information just because you don't like it. CALL HER UP ON THE PHONE OR EMAIL HER IF YOU WANT TO CALL HER BLUFF. 12:46, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
Verifiability, not truth is the standard for inclusion. Blogs, reviews, and "I called the author" are not reliable sources, particularly for controversial information on a living person. You'll have to find a source that meets Wikipedia's guidelines. Sorry. MastCell Talk 17:26, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

Check this out, feel free to leave comments: —Preceding unsigned comment added by Sadunkal (talkcontribs) 13:47, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

Family's nationality[edit]

Being one myself, I would make an informed guess and say that Margulis is a Lithuanian American, born to parents who emigrated from the country before the turn of the century, or just after it. Lynn is a common anglican version of the lithuanian name 'Lina' and Margulis is a Baltic last name. Also, there is a large community of Lithuanian immigrants in Chicago, which has remained strong for several generations. If anyone has any specific, factual information on this, please submit, because I'm just making educated speculations. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:04, 16 April 2008 (UTC)

Margulis is actually a Jewish last name, coming from מרגלית in Hebrew. That spelling might well indicate a Lithuanian pronunciation, though. jnothman talk 12:33, 10 June 2008 (UTC)
Lynn Margulis (or Lina Margulis) sounds like a name of Lithuanian origin. Would be interesting to know the facts. Margulis is a Lithuanian word meaning variegated fabric. Margas - variegated. Mirgėti – to twinkle. Online Lithuanian dictionary - user:Bepasikiškiakopūsteliaujantis —Preceding undated comment added 15:41, 2 April 2013 (UTC)

Relevant to this discussion is that her surname by birth is "Alexander". She picked up "Margulis" from her second husband.

Date of birth?[edit]

In the article she is said to be born first on the 5 March and then on the 1 March. When was she born, exactly? --Galaxia92 may the force be with you 14:32, 5 March 2008 (UTC)

Margulis position on September 11th attacks[edit]

Arthur Rubin believes that Margulis's voice has been faked in multiple radio interviews, that articles based on those interviews are hence wrong (despite being published by the University), and that the many many other blogs and internet sources that quote her on her positions on 9/11 are also "unreliable" and apparently wrong, and that Margulis would make no effort whatsoever to clear her name of all of these falsified stories. Does he think a conspiracy is going on? This sounds like he might be a closet conspiracy theorist.

AR writes "revert, per WP:BLP. Daily Collegian _may_ be reliable, but they're quoting a source we know to be unreliable, and admit it's their source"

Give me a break! Check out what a google search shows here Are we only allowed to post information if the New York Times says we can? I doubt CBS News or the Washington Post is going to cover this. (talk) 03:34, 13 June 2008 (UTC)

If you can find one of those which meets our reliability standards and quotes her, rather than Alex's the "truther" web site, go ahead. I'm not willing to look through all the references which quote the unreliable web site.
Beside, you're User:Bov, evading his block, or User:ZeroFaults (etc.), evading his ban. I don't know which. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 03:42, 13 June 2008 (UTC)
>>"I'm not willing to look through all the references"
Of course, then you'd have to stop your reverts because you would see they are wrong. (talk) —Preceding comment was added at 23:00, 14 June 2008 (UTC)
It's the responsibility of the editor adding material to provide sources, not the responsibility of an editor removing unsourced information to search through a 100s of unreliable sources to find a reliable one. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 00:02, 15 June 2008 (UTC)
And a rational person would read what I wrote. What I said was perfectly sensible, but not entirely relevant. What I meant to say is: "I'm not going to look through all the search results to find one which is reliable and doesn't specifically quote the unreliable source, when I don't believe such a source exists. If you think it exists, find it." — Arthur Rubin (talk) 00:21, 15 June 2008 (UTC)

Aurther are you blind? i just followed the google search for her name and 9/11 and found thousands of hits and multiple quotes. I'm confused as to why you refuse to believe she made these statements... - Robbie

I can find thousands of google groups hits that _I_ said absurd things, most of them from a sporged attack in the 1990s. You need to find one reliable source. Blogs are not reliable (unless the blogger is verifiably Lynn). Alex Jones's web sites are not reliable. Sources which clearly quote blogs or Alex Jones are not reliable, even if they would normally be reliable by Wikipedia standards. One mainstream or even counter-culture newspaper would probably be sufficient. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 00:10, 17 June 2008 (UTC)

Sources for Arthur to examine with a microscope --

"Contacted Friday, Margulis declined to be interviewed for this story, but affirmed that the online statement is her own."

I don't know, if the college newspapers and Margulis' confirmation of her story is not enough, I don't know what is. It assumes that college newspapers have no editorial oversight at all, that students fake their claims of confirming the views of the individuals on the front pages of their papers, etc. (talk) 01:50, 18 June 2008 (UTC)

The Smith College paper still quotes, which we know to be unreliable.
The Daily Hamshire Gazette appears at least to have questioned patriotsquestion911, which puts them far ahead of the pack. I think that one may be reliable enough. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 03:58, 18 June 2008 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:44, 11 September 2010 (UTC)

Arthur, you are not any kind of a dictator here. You cannot just imply that an interview of Margulis in a documentary is fake and therefore decide that it cannot be mentioned. And she does not need to control a website (and how, in such a case, would you know that she really controls it anyway) that publishes a documentary in which she is fully obviously interviewed to have it mentioned in Wikipedia. History teaches (talk) 11:01, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

This section also needs clearance you cannot just ignore the fact that there hundreds of sources about the subject on the internet while there is not a word on the article. — Preceding unsigned comment added by JResearches (talkcontribs) 15:03, 24 November 2011 (UTC)

Article not neutral[edit]

Lack information. The article need to explain the "scientific critiques" against the Theory of symbiotic relationships driving evolution.-- (talk) 03:11, 17 September 2009 (UTC)

Such criticism would belong on the Symbiogenesis and/or Endosymbiotic theory pages rather than in a biographical article. Vsmith (talk) 13:12, 17 September 2009 (UTC)

This does not seem to be much of an ongoing controversy. Can we remove the tag? Nareek (talk) 22:16, 3 March 2010 (UTC)

BBC Radio Four[edit]

She sounded pretty convincing last night, especially in debate with Richard Dawkins at Oxford! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:33, 29 December 2009 (UTC)


"In 2009 Margulis co-authored with seven others a published paper ..." - is this controversial? If this paragraph is self-contained, it ought to include an explanation of why co-authoring a published paper with seven others is deemed controversial. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:12, 23 November 2011 (UTC)

This section states that Margulis co-authored a paper "arguing that AIDS is not caused by HIV..." After reviewing the paper I believe this claim to be unfounded. The paper calls for research into the effects of spirochetes going from round body to more active forms. Further it claims that this occurrence may lead to mis-diagnosis of AIDS. Lastly it asks whether the relationship between spirochetes and humans is involved with HIV's relationship to AIDS.

Again, nowhere in the paper is it argued that "AIDS is not caused by HIV." Tamlane3 (talk) 00:08, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

I have re-written the unsubstantiated line and eliminated one that followed. The eliminated line further addressed the mis-conception that Margulis' article argued that AIDS is not caused by HIV. The line noted that this argument would be unsubstantiated by the success of anti-retroviral drugs. The Margulis et al. paper addresses anti-retroviral drugs in such a way that the drugs' efficacy is not prima face evidence nullifying the suppositions of the paper. Tamlane3 (talk) 00:25, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

I read an interview with her in the April 2011 issue of Discover magazine[2]. She says AIDS is syphilis, or something along those lines. Don't know if that's the same as "HIV doesn't cause AIDS," but it sure seemed like that's what she was saying.-W0lfie (talk) 19:07, 27 April 2011 (UTC)
Referenced this article. (talk) 07:38, 7 September 2011 (UTC)


Is this "Leonardo DaVinci Society of Thinking" of any interest in the real world? — Arthur Rubin (talk) 16:59, 17 June 2010 (UTC)

Controversies (formerly Fringe science) section[edit]

The original statements Margulis holds a number of opinions outside of mainstream science. In 2009 she co-authored a paper arguing that the change in spirochete form, from more motile helical to more inactive cyst and back, may be a causal contributor to AIDS need comment and action. The first statement is POV without a source, and the second misrepresents the source cited, where I believe Magulis suggests that AIDS may be frequently misdiagnosed, that in many cases the disease in question is actually syphilis, not HIV-related AIDS. Thus her call for further research. But in any case, the paper is sufficiently recondite to laymen to warrant an emphasis on clarity. Absent any reliable secondary sources, to achieve that clarity we need unambiguous statements from the document itself that require no further sourcing or interpretation, and these I have now provided in the article.

The sentence In 2009 she also pushed the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) to publish a paper by Donald I. Williamson arguing that butterflies are the result of hybridization of a now extinct insect and velvet worms also needs comment and action. "pushed" without a source is POV, and I have now provided a source explaining the publication-mechanism she used, one employed by any number of senior scholars. As for the hybridization of a now extinct insect and velvet worms, there is nothing terribly wrong with it, but it is derived from Williamson's own more general topic sentence, found in the cited extract: I reject the Darwinian assumption that larvae and their adults evolved from a single common ancestor, which is also found in the Scientific American source as well. Why not use the topic sentence? Most laymen will find it understandable without further instruction. Finally, I have added Conrad Labandeira's comment, with source, to balance Fred Nijhout's much more negative comment.

Lastly (so far), I have put her 9-11 comments in the context of their Web-based sources, and provided Web-links. Readers will see that the comments are not backed by reliable sources, yet will be informed of the existence of the alleged comments themselves. BruceSwanson (talk) 23:16, 20 August 2011 (UTC)

The sources are not sufficiently strong to pass the WP:BLP policy. Such allegations must be very well sourced or they should be removed. Binksternet (talk) 21:10, 15 November 2011 (UTC)


The first paragraph of the controversies section is currently:

In 2009 Margulis co-authored with seven others a published paper stating "Detailed research that correlates life histories of symbiotic spirochetes to changes in the immune system of associated vertebrates is sorely needed" and urging the "reinvestigation of the natural history of mammalian, tick-borne, and venereal transmission of spirochetes in relation to impairment of the human immune system."

Could someone actually add some explanation of this and why it is controversial? It doesn't really make a great deal of sense to me. AstroMark (talk) 10:34, 23 November 2011 (UTC)

In certain circles, particularly those associated with HIV/AIDS research, Margulis's statement is deeply controversial. It posits that spirochete infection (as in syphilis) can't be cured in the conventional sense. That idea undermines the standard protocol of treatment. Margulis believed that what begins as an infection becomes a permanent condition, with the spirochete an integral part of the now-weakened body's biochemistry. In other words, its a detrimental but symbiotic relationship. She also believed that AIDS was actually a spirochete infection (specifically syphilis), and that HIV was not an agent of disease. But you're right that the quote needs to be explained, with references, in the text. BruceSwanson (talk) 17:57, 25 November 2011 (UTC)
Thank you, that's much clearer. AstroMark (talk) 18:39, 25 November 2011 (UTC)
The article never says that AIDS is not caused by HIV, it points to a misdiagnoses of syphilis, also a talks about a symbiosis with virus, I can not read the interview in whole, because a subscription is needed, anyway that is just an interview, the research paper is what should be taken into account, interviewers some time misinterpret the answers or even manipulate to get more audience, but as I told before, I have not read all the interview, just the first page and I may be wrong.
I do not see Lynn Margulis as an HIV-denial activist at all. That should be erased!
The fact that she explains a symbiosis mechanism that spirochetes may mask is not controversial, it just brings light in the search for an effective treatment of the diseases they cause. That has no relation with denying the existence of HIV or it as a cause of AIDS. Read the article first. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:22, 14 December 2011 (UTC)

Date of death not showing up on infobox[edit]

It's listed in there, and I've tried fixing it, but for whatever reason it won't show up. Why is this? --Harizotoh9 (talk) 07:57, 24 November 2011 (UTC)

Five-Kingdom promotion missing[edit]

After Margulis pretty much nailed the Endosymbiotic theory of the eukaryotic cell evolution, she promoted the five-kingdom theory. Until the mid-1980s, the five kingdom theory was not in high school biology textbooks. After she published her book, it became included in biology textbooks. While she did not create the 5-kingdom theory, and gave full credit to its originator, she was the driving force that brought it out from its coffin into mainstream biology. This should be mentioned in this article. It's a major achievement. I was fortunate enough to hear her talk to our small class in Microbial Ecology, at the Marine Biological Lab, Woods Hole, in 1982. Harlan Halvorson brought her in. She showed the films she made of symbiotic bacteria and showed how easy it was for them to become endosymbiotic in cells. I wish these films were edited into a single story and made available. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:04, 24 December 2013 (UTC)