Talk:Charles Darwin/Archive 1

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Archive 1 | Archive 2

Social Darwinism

I removed this text from the main article:

The theory of evolution was also applied to the human world (economics, politics, etc.). The most famous of these doctrines is Social Darwinism.

on the grounds that social Darwinism is considered to be unrelated (and possibly contradictory to) the ideas of Charles Darwin. See Mayr in his The Growth of Biological Thought, for example: so-called social Darwinism...During the 1880s and 90s when social Darwinism was confused with real Darwinism

110 years later we would hope Wikipedia is still not confusing the two. Darwinism and social Darwinism might be mentioned in a section (or article) on how Darwin's ideas have been perverted, alongside, say, Darwin and racism.

user:TimShell - 10 Aug 2004

  • I'm only in partial agreement here. social Darwinism simply refers to the of the Darwinian algorithm to social situations, be they used to explain economics, politics, sociology, memes, (perfectly legitimate) or racism and eugenics (pseudoscience). The whole sections relating to this are a bit of a mess, unfortunately, and could do with sorting out. Dunc_Harris| 20:21, 10 Aug 2004 (UTC)
  • I think it should stay in, if only for the disambiguation. -- Netoholic 21:19, 10 Aug 2004 (UTC)
  • I originally wrote it, and support its inclusion. That makes it two against one (with one undecided?) so I'm re-inserting it. But I see TimShell's point of view, so I'll explain that the relations are dubious. Brutannica 21:42, 14 Aug 2004 (UTC)
I rewrote and qualified. SD has been totally discredited by all academics, save for a few white supremacists (e.g. Jared Taylor) and their various asian and african counterparts. Also, I'm now reading Darwin's journal of the voyage of the Beagle. While it is clear that he considers himself superior to most of the men and women he meets on his travel, he doesn't seem to consider himself as morally superior, that is he gives less civilized men the same right to live as they choose and he explicitly condemns slavery. Indeed, relating the story of an enslaved black woman who threw herself down a cliff rather than be recaptured by her enslaver, he notes she was called "obstinate" and comments that if she had been a Roman matron, the same behaviour would have made is call her heroic. Darwin would have repudiated SD if it had been formulated in his lifetime, and those who formulated SD usurped Darwin's name when they did so. Vincent 05:58, 11 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I never said that Darwin believed in "SD". Your edits are fine, though. Brutannica 19:15, 11 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I didn't think you did, but if SD is mentioned I think the point ought to be made that Darwin didn't believe in it. Never mind his theory, the man himself is easy to misunderstand, e.g. chapter 6 of the Origins of Species dealing with difficulties on the theory is often used by Creationists to support their ludicrous idea that "even Darwin wasn't comfortable with evolution"! Cheers Vincent 05:28, 12 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I removed the paragraph that stated Darwin had anything to do with SD. He didn't, and even the quote supported this idea since it implied voluntary participation (both sexes should refrain). He was a man of his times and he did see White Anglo Saxon Victorian English society as being the most advanced civilization, but that's a long way from attributing to him 1) that members of "lesser" societies should be crowded out by the fitter ones or 2) that governments should promote plans to force the unfit not to breed. Vincent 12:13, 25 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I think most of the article is fine, but the section on Social Darwinism simply does not belong here. It is utterly anachronistic. --Tony Sidaway|Talk 17:22, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)
It is one of the primary questions about Darwin asked not only by historians but also brought up by critics as well -- was Darwin a "Social Darwinist", do his theories about life have implications for society, etc. etc. It is one of the primary ways in which Darwinism as a notion has entered into mainstream culture and analysis. I'm happy with saying it can be cut down or edited up or have a lot of it shunted off to another article, but I think it is nonsensical to dismiss it simply on the grounds that it involves looking backwards on Darwin and asking questions about things which would later come -- the point of the section is to contextualize Darwin within these questions so as to head off vulgar anachronism. --Fastfission 22:15, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)


I've heard that Charles Darwin did not want to publish his ideas because he felt it would hurt his wife, whom he loved. She was not an evolutionist.

That could be part of the answer. At least, so much can be read in Darwin's original autobiography, which was first published in 1887, esp. in footnotes in the chapter about the development of his own religious convictions. Another reason (also clear from his ab) might be his frequent illnesses, and his zealous drive to publish as much as possible about other biological/zoological fields of research. He was always frustrated he could not do more.Fact is he produced an enormous amount of work!. A third reason Darwin waited 19 years was that he simply was afraid of being 'prejudiced' (word quoted literally). His theory needed more time to ripen, so to speak. Anyway, maybe this is of some help. Anyone with more knowledge about it,please go ahead.

Imho the first sentence "Contrary ..." should only appear later. One who does not know anything about Darwin reading this page should have a short introduction as first paragraph, not a negation of something assumed to "be publicly known". (Yes, I am picky ;).

Framework is now in place for a good article, but a lot more work needs to be done. I'm going to get to this on and off over the next few weeks (hopefully), but anyonelse should feel free to wade in - however make sure your "facts" come from works in the history of biology, not from popular works as these often make sweeping generalizations about Darwin. John Lynch

Assertion that "However, toward the end of his life, Darwin abandoned his own theory, since he was unable to postulate a mechanism by which characteristics could be passed from one generation to the next. " moved here. Is there any cause to believe this 'abandonment'?

Also, is it really Down House in Downe, or is it Downe House in Downe?

Someone else

Yes and No. The sixth ed of Origin becomes almost Lamarckian in that Darwin believed in an inheritance mechanism. The key component missing from Darwin's work is inheritance mechansism; see Mendelian genetics. Someone Ronald Fisher perhaps (?) later showed that such a mechanism couldn't result in evolution, as the blending would lead in a few generations to each organism of a species being identical. Not to be confused with the Lady Hope nonsense.

I have the Darwin family tree done in PowerPoint. Please post on my talk page to request changes or email me to get a copy of the PowerPoint.Cutler 21:16, 3 Mar 2004 (UTC)

  • The text mentions Josiah Wedgwood but he doesn't appear on the family tree. All Darwin's children should appear. Who are the Galtons and why are they in bold in the family tree?
  • Yes it is Down House. The spelling of the village was changed to Downe but the house kept the old spelling. Adam 04:31, 4 Mar 2004 (UTC)

I am not happy with the computer diagram "thing" User:Duncharris; I think it is unhelpful and innacurate.

I would have to agree with Duncharris. The diagram is confusing and difficult to follow. User:ChicXulub 18:41, 27 Mar 2004

The Views on religion section has poor punctuation in the quotes – dashes after commas, poor spacing, etc. Would someone with the original text/book at hand clean this up? Also, the use of – or — would look nicer... Thanks, Lee J Haywood 08:06, 29 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Yes, agree with Lee. I linked numerous topics contained in that section to their relevant articles, but it needs more attention.

Also the religions mentioned are all spelt incorrectly (Hindoos, Mahomadans, Buddists). Were these spellings in the original text? Were they Darwin's mistakes, or common spellings at the time?

SimonEast 07:46, 15 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Well, Hindoo is not a mistake, it's just an alternate spelling that was more common in the 19th century and is almost never used now. Orthography is not such an exact thing; one might expect to see Mahometan substituted for Mohammedan as well (there are about 10 different spellings in the OED for this one), and a number of diferent spellings for Buddhist, so a check against the originial would seem to be in order. --Nunh-huh 08:06, 15 Jun 2004 (UTC)

The Beagle vogage was not originally intended to be 5 years long. The way the article is written now, that impression might be given.

Darwin -- Wedgwood family

I have about twenty articles that need expanding on this family; I've done most of the geneaology, I just need biographies now. Please see talk:Darwin -- Wedgwood family/to_do for a list of tasks. These are below:

The following is a list that needs to be done (please cross out if you have helped me!)

  • Charles Darwin pretty good article. Maybe needs tidy on family.
  • Francis Galton could do with some expansion, but not particularly a priority.
  • Erasmus Galton I have seen some info on - only minorly notable however.


Cheers, Dunc_Harris| 14:08, 20 Jul 2004 (UTC)


Right. I've uploaded new images. This means that Charles Darwin.png is no longer needed. Also this silly thing has been taken out:


Duncharris 21:04, May 5, 2004 (UTC)

changed "account" to "accounts" (Quite apart from the wealth of detailed biological accounts they give, Darwin's published account also provide us with social, political, and anthropological insights into the areas he visited.) in the name of grammar. had nothing better to do

-random tagger

Strange thing to post in a Discussion page... Brutannica 02:07, 2 Sep 2004 (UTC)


What's happened to the infobox? The new version is disgusting! I'm going to hunt out its nest and use my flamethrower on nuke setting. Noisy | Talk 18:04, 10 Sep 2004 (UTC)

You certainly have strong opinions.... Brutannica 04:21, 11 Sep 2004 (UTC)
That idiotic title always appearing on my watchlist was getting to me. No need to shout, you know. Vincent 00:16, 13 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Vote: Infobox vs. Plain image and text

The "vote" tracking is at the bottom of this section.

I don't particularly like the infobox and prefer the plain picture. The data should certainly be there, but written in the first line of the article e.g.

Charles Robert Darwin, F.R.S. (born 12 February 1809 in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England; died 19 April 1882 in Downe, Kent, England) ...

May I suggest we vote on it before reverting or deciding to leave as is?

The tally would now be:
No box: 3 (Vincent, Noisy, Moriori, Steinsky) and
Box it: 1 (Ed g2s)

Does this seem fair? Vincent 00:43, 14 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I imagine that Netoholic, who came up with and added the infobox in the first place, would support its continued use. Certainly, I would.
Your suggestion would be contrary to practice, which is to have the opening as simple as possible: "Charles Robert Darwin, FRS (12 February 180919 April 1882) [...]" and keep the extra information in the article - which, indeed, is exactly how it is in the article (barring the use of full stops, that is).
James F. (talk) 00:53, 14 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Noted James. I presume you vote to keep the infobox, but it's not because infoboxes exist that they ought to be used all the time. Anyway No box-4 Pro box-3 Vincent 01:16, 14 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I'd prefer no infobox myself--it's distracting and there's really no need. Janet Browne's Darwin biography doesn't have any infoboxes--she keeps our attention simply by being a fantastic writer. Why not aspire to her level? Opus33 01:02, 14 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I agree that its necessity should be considered on a case-by-case basis, but here I would hardly call it a distraction. It occupies the space vacated by the table of contents and functions merely as formatted image caption. ed g2stalk 01:26, 14 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I should try to articulate my objection more clearly. The infobox makes very prominent (by using the graphic technology of advertising) some data about Darwin that just isn't very important, like his birthday, his death day, and the fact that Shrewsbury is in Shropshire. What's important is what he did, and that you can only get by reading some text.
In fact, I think this article has some very good text, none of which, incidentally, was written by me. Let's not distract the reader's attention from it. Cheers, Opus33 03:08, 14 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I cast my vote for the infobox. It'll probably lose, and I don't really care much, but it does give some helpful information at a glance. Even if it has useless information, it can be expanded with other interesting facts -- although I suppose that could also be distracting. Brutannica 04:20, 14 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I fail see to how anyone wanting to find out about Charles Darwin will be distracted by an infobox - it doesn't interfere with the text or make it any less readable. Even if it does draw the reader's attention upon arrial at the page - most people have an attention span above half a second. ed g2stalk 17:13, 14 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Don't add votes. If the user doesn't sign themselves, it doesn't count, and is improper to add them. -- Netoholic @ 00:18, 2004 Sep 16 (UTC)

Don't preach. It's tracking opinions which Noisy and Moriori very clearly expressed on this talk page. This is casual not official. Neither of us is the fount of democracy, eh? BTW You asked me to remove your own probox vote, I did but you waited until I changed the page to put your vote back in, hardly sporting. At the point when I changed the count was 3 probox to 3 agaisnt plus 2 strong probably against Note also that I waited 2 days before moving the box off. Let's wait another two days before putting infobox back if the vote warrants it. Fair? Vincent 02:53, 16 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I like infoboxes. For example, a large amount of information for the element Oxygen is provided neatly and compactly. I don't really like the id=toc scheme, and I can't avoid it through choice of skin, so it looks as though I will have to embrace it, as James says. It will probably spread through other usages.

But really, what do infoboxes bring to the party for biographical articles? What more is there to say than time and place of birth and death? And, in general, these are already provided in the first paragraph or two. The current version of the template infobox provides that ... but is never going to be expanded with any factual (i.e. not open to disputation, as quotes are) information that is common to every biography where such an infobox may be used. OK, they fill up the space beside the toc, but a picture does that just as well. For biographies, they just seem redundant. (Copy on infobox talk page.) Noisy | Talk 10:27, 16 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Be imaginative. I've always thought of an infobox as a dump for trivia, so any useless or interesting-but-insignificant info on Darwin, like the birthday coincidence, his health, his favourite colour and food, etc. could wind up there. Or it could list his place of work, his great achievement + date, minor achievements, etc. Basically, the article is for more drawn-out, better explained, and more informative material, while infoboxes have simpler fare. Brutannica

Glad to see the revert war stopped for the moment as we return to voting. Can we agree on a day when the votes get officially counted and we all abide by the result? I suggest midnight Greenwich time on September 23, which is about a week from today. Also, that only Wikisigned ballots should count. Does this sound acceptable? Opus33 14:52, 16 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Yes. Brutannica
To be honest, I doubt that this vote will matter in the long run, since this is just one article. If there is any controvery or dispute as to whether an infobox belongs on Biography pages, I would submit that there should be a more formal discussion and later vote over at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Biography. -- Netoholic @ 15:48, 2004 Sep 16 (UTC)
I agree.. Brutannica 00:56, 17 Sep 2004 (UTC)
OK for above procedure. I think this vote will matter, as an early test of infoboxes used outside their already established usage (Presidents, elements, etc.) where they add value because they standardize presentation and ease understanding the bigger picture (all the presidents, the entire periodic table). I think in a bio article an infobox isn't so useful because 1) choosing on a restricted list of a topics is POV (e.g. quotes) and 2) adding topics eventually makes the biobox hard to manage. (comments copied on infobox talk) Vincent 01:13, 17 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Running tally: sign (three tildes ~) and update the count as appropriate (please keep at bottom of section)

No box: 6 (Vincent, Noisy | Talk, Moriori 03:42, Sep 16, 2004 (UTC), Opus33, Steinsky, Gzornenplatz)
Keep box: 4 (ed g2s, James F., Brutannica, Netoholic @)

Where the 1854 picture go?

File:Charles Darwin 1854.jpg ? Dunc_Harris| 18:22, 12 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Darwin's Worms

Adraeus 09:36, 27 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Here's a fascinating article regarding Darwin's Worms by Amy Stewart, Wilson Quarterly.

Abraham Lincoln info in the Charles Darwin article

Summary: Darwin and Lincoln shared a birthday, should this fact be included in Darwin's biog?

This discussion has been moved to the /Lincoln sub-page, please post relevant discussion there.


I have protected the page from editing until issues with the article are resolved on the discussion page. -- AllyUnion (talk) 08:11, 22 Jan 2005 (UTC)

A "protected" tag on the top of the page would be nice. --Crucible Guardian 02:51, 11 July 2005 (UTC)
The page is unprotected, probably has been for a long time. Guettarda 03:03, 11 July 2005 (UTC)

Mention city of Darwin, Australia, named for Darwin

Can we do this? Tabletop 05:37, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)

It's already in the "Legacy" section. --Fastfission 07:08, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)
It is also in the Darwin Template at the very bottom of the page. There are also other places named Darwin around the world (including a volcano, seamount, cave, canyon, glacier, reef, lake, waterfall, mountain and island), but I don't know how many are named after Charles Darwin (see Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names 33 matches, Alexandria Digital Library Gazetteer Server Client 81 matches). In the US, there is a Darwin, California, Darwin Township, Illinois and Darwin, Minnesota [1] [2]. In Canada, there are three different lakes named Darwin [3] BlankVerse 08:34, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)


User:Grunt posted the following to Talk:Charles Darwin/Lincoln:

There is now a Charles Darwin/Lincoln dispute case before the Arbitration Committee to investigate the behaviour of the disputants here. If you were not contacted via talk page, you may still wish to add evidence toWikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Charles Darwin/Lincoln dispute/Evidence to support your case. -- Grunt 🇪🇺 03:36, 2005 Jan 25 (UTC)

Summary of resolution: For being disruptive User:Vfp15 is prohibited from editing the articles on Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln for a year. ArbCom made no statement as to whether the trivia could be included or not, of course, but only ruled on the methods of editing. See the page above for the full decision. --Fastfission 21:10, 13 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Template for Deletion?

The Darwin template is currently listed as a Template for deletion (see Wikipedia:Templates_for_deletion#Template:Darwin). Personally, I am undecided about this template. Perhaps there should be two separate ones—a Darwin geneology template and a separate Darwin template without the genealogy. Still, it bugs me that there wasn't any notification of the proposed deletion on the Charles Darwin talk page. I think that there should be some policy that when a template is listed for deletion that the talk page for the article(s) most affected by the deletion should receive a notification. BlankVerse 12:10, 3 Feb 2005 (UTC)

  • Sorry if you were caught unawares; I mentioned it on the template's talk page, if this situation comes up again I'll mention it on the template's 'main page' as well.--Pharos 09:35, 4 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Evidence of character?

This has been added to Social Darwinism and eugenics: it doesn't relate to what I remember of Descent of Man: are there quotes or references which back the statements up?

in many other ways he was a typical Victorian landed gentleman. His views on women, racial differences, and social classes were reflective of his position in life (he believed women to be inferior to men, "lower" races to be inferior to "higher" ones, and was particularly disliking of the Irish),

to comment: he was certainly a late georgian / victorian gentleman, funded by his father but hardly "landed" as not in the aristocracy. His writings take care to set out the views and scientific comment of the time, but I recall his conclusions as being much more open than this suggests. He certainly writes in terms of a spectrum between savages and civilisation, but his experience with the Fuegian Jeremy Buttons (see The Voyage of the Beagle) demonstrated this to be learned rather than innate, and his writings seem to me to be discuss social improvement rather than rejecting "savages" as being inherently inferior. He got on reasonably with FitzRoy: any evidence he particularly disliked the Irish? I feel that this section should be brief, with detail in the linked Social Darwinism article (though a reference to Spencer's contribution is appropriate), and while Darwin's views and character are worth covering, this doesn't reflect the impression I have from readings so far....dave souza 23:57, 17 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I've since rewritten that section, but there are many articles written about this aspect of Darwin. The Diane Paul one cited does a good job of covering this, as does the Desmond and Moore introduction. In Descent of Man... for Darwin's views on women, see chapter 19: "The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shewn by man's attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can woman—whether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands." For his wavering on eugenics/Social Darwinism, see the end of chapter 4 and then his little tirade at the very end of chapter 21 ("On the other hand, as Mr. Galton has remarked, if the prudent avoid marriage, whilst the reckless marry, the inferior members tend to supplant the better members of society. Man, like every other animal, has no doubt advanced to his present high condition through a struggle for existence consequent on his rapid multiplication; and if he is to advance still higher, it is to be feared that he must remain subject to a severe struggle. Otherwise he would sink into indolence, and the more gifted men would not be more successful in the battle of life than the less gifted.". For his eventual conclusion on the Fuegians, see the end of chapter 21, where he explains he's prouded to be related to baboons than he is to "savages". What's most amazing about Descent is that on almost everything Darwin is willing to hedge his bets ("I think it's this way, but I might be wrong, there is evidence against this perhaps"), except on some of these issues (he is steadfast convinced that women are inferior and education will produce no overall effect; he wavers in his first discussion of eugenics but his conclusion on it is pretty straightforward and shows a tremendous influence of Galton; his views on the superiority of the "civilized" races over the "savages" is less straightforward, as noted, but again he makes it pretty clear where he stands), where he suddenly gets convictions. (He is a hard fellow to read, in this respect, unless you read everything).
Now, I'm not saying these things because I have anything against the guy. There are a number of things which make him stand out in his time as being fairly progressive. He was a staunch abolitionist, he believed all humans were of the same species and much closer related to one another than the more popular anthropologists of his day did, and certainly would have not agreed with any of the eugenics policies which became popular in the 20th century (his political opinions were extremely distrustful of such sorts of government intervention). But I think there needs to be an honest and straightforward discussion of his less savory views, which are all pretty well documented if you are willing to look for them (the Cambridge Companion to Darwin is fairly good in this regard).
Oh, and on the Irish, from chapter 5:
Thus the reckless, degraded, and often vicious members of society, tend to increase at a quicker rate than the provident and generally virtuous members. Or as Mr. Greg puts the case: "The careless, squalid, unaspiring Irishman multiplies like rabbits: the frugal, foreseeing, self-respecting, ambitious Scot, stern in his morality, spiritual in his faith, sagacious and disciplined in his intelligence, passes his best years in struggle and in celibacy, marries late, and leaves few behind him. Given a land originally peopled by a thousand Saxons and a thousand Celts—and in a dozen generations five-sixths of the population would be Celts, but five-sixths of the property, of the power, of the intellect, would belong to the one-sixth of Saxons that remained. In the eternal 'struggle for existence,' it would be the inferior and less favoured race that prevailed—and prevailed by virtue not of its good qualities but of its faults."
I will eventually be adding more information on these to the Descent of Man page when I get the time (it's in a pretty sad state).
--Fastfission 07:11, 16 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification and improvements to the section: I'm glad to see this article focussing more on Darwin himself, and am working towards introducing indications of his life and other work during the development of Darwin's theory. Minor points: in "there should be open competition for all me; and the most able..... should "me;" read men? Also, I think Spencer's Social Darwinism predated his hearing about Darwin's views, being developed from the Malthusianism of the time; these are relationships I'm still trying to get to grips with!..dave souza 11:20, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)
You're right about the typo. Spencer's social philosophy predated Darwin by quite a bit, and Spencer himself was always more of a Lamarckian in regards to evolution than a Darwinian (though Darwin himself was more Lamarckian than is usually acknowledged, especially in his later works. Pangenesis was terribly Lamarckian in his formulation of it). The term itself did not get applied to that sort of social thought with any regularity until Richard Hofstadter made it popular with his book on Social Darwinism in American Thought; in the early 20th century the term had many vague meanings and was not often used. --Fastfission 22:48, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Page name

Currently, Darwin links to a page about the Australian city. I think perhaps it would be more useful if the city was at Darwin, Northern Territory (or whatever the longer, standard version would be), and the link to "Darwin" proper linked either to Charles Darwin or to the Darwin disambig page. There are enough things named Darwin -- almost all derivative of Charles -- for it not to be obvious what people are looking for when they type in "Darwin". I'm not sure the Australian city is likely to be the top of their list. Thoughts on this? --Fastfission 13:33, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I'm not sure. The Darwin page does currently link to Darwin (disambiguation) so people will be able to find other uses from there. I'd have no objections to making "Darwin" the dab page, and moving the dity to "D, N T" though, if others think it's best. Joe D (t) 14:29, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)


This is a pig's breakfast. 5 July 2005 11:33 (UTC)

The version you were looking at had been vandalized. Try it again. David | Talk 5 July 2005 11:42 (UTC)

New point: the TOCright looks uglier than having the contents in the usual place on my browser: reconsider? --dave souza 9 July 2005 16:24 (UTC) (now sorted - thanks!) --dave souza 08:36, 16 July 2005 (UTC)


What evidence is there for Darwin being vegetarian? From Desmond and Moore, he was still not in 1866 when a doctor had him "half starved to death" on a diet of scanty amounts of "toast & meat", and they make no mention of vegetarianism earlier or in any of the subsequent "abominable" diets Darwin was put on. In terms of the ethics, he was still lobbying in favour of vivisection towards the end of his life, so a conversion for that reason seems improbable..--dave souza 08:36, 16 July 2005 (UTC)

I removed the cateogry until someone can provide decent citation that that was the case, though as a vegetarian myself I an vouch for it being good for you, the environment and the animals. Dunc| 13:21, 16 July 2005 (UTC)
I find it pretty unlikely and I've never seen a reference to it. Even Google only turns up nay one page which just puts his name in a list of "Famous Vegetarians" without any justification. I've also seen a few of his quotes (saying there will little difference between humans and animals) on vegetarian pages, but that doesn't mean he himself was a vegetarian (and he certainly wasn't trying to make a dietary point!). --Fastfission 14:05, 16 July 2005 (UTC)

Medical symptoms

The additional medical info from the Scientific American review is interesting, but I've tried to keep this article as small as possible and put more detail into the linked biographical articles (i.e. Reaction to Darwin's theory and the others listed uner "See also"). I'd suggest that some at least of this info gets moved into these articles....dave souza 20:03, 18 July 2005 (UTC) Or perhaps better, Charles Darwin's illness which appears to need some work. ...dave souza 20:20, 18 July 2005 (UTC)

There is an entire article on the illness; the mentioning of it here should simply say that it was persistent throughout his life, seemed to pop up in times of stress, and its ultimate origin is unknown. Anything beyond that should be in the sub article. I marked that article as needing cleanup because it is currently a mess of text towards the end, though most of it seems quite good and decently cited. --Fastfission 21:46, 18 July 2005 (UTC)

Creationist (talk · contribs) has been editing Charles Darwin's illness with mixed effects, though he does seem to be following NPOV, etc, he maybe is being a bit overambitious, and the sight of his username in all its redlink glory makes me nervous! Dunc| 22:11, 18 July 2005 (UTC)

So far everything he's (I'm assuming it is a he, for no particular reason) cited seems legit to me, so I'm all for letting him have his run and then editing it down a bit and formatting it according to MOS. The name is certainly a cause for a raised eyebrow but he doesn't seem to be doing anything malicious, so I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. The formatting problems and excessive attribution of titles (i.e. every history professor becomes a "Dr.") are just him not being familiar with our normal ways of doing things and are primarily cosmetic. --Fastfission 00:43, 19 July 2005 (UTC)

Best health?

I'm removing from the Beagle section Lastly, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, during the last ten years of his life, when Darwin focused on botanical research and "no longer speculated about evolution, he experienced the best health since his years at Cambridge.". The statement is misleading both in terms of his health and his work.

After Cambridge he spent almost five strenuous years on the Beagle expedition, and though he was ill a couple of times that hardly seems unreasonable. In contrast, his last ten years were spent in semi-convalescence, with his wife watching that he did not work himself to death and making him take holiday breaks. During the period, summarised in Darwin from Insectiverous plants to Worms, Darwin was unwell again by March 1873, and that August a heated discussion with Hooker ended with Darwin lying in bed with his memory gone and "a severe shock continually passing through my brain". Emma feared an epileptic fit, but the doctor put him on a diet, then in November John Fiske wrote "I am afraid I shall never see him again, for his health is very bad". In March 1878 the strain of experiments on plants brought back Darwin's old sickness of attacks of dizziness. In June 1881 a doctor diagnosed that his heart condition was "precarious" and he wrote to Hooker that "Illness is downright misery to me... I cannot forget my discomfort for an hour [and] must look forward to Down graveyard as the sweetest place on earth." In February 1882 he was "miserable to a strange degree" with a cough, on 7 March he had a seizure and he fell and died at 4 p.m. on Wednesday 19 April 1882.

While "speculated" is a weasel word since he had long been convinced about evolution, Darwin spent the last decade of his life fully engaged in the controversy with Mivart and others, and his work on plants (and worms) was evolutionary biology, showing function in what others claimed was a miraculous proof of divine intervention. In November 1873 Darwin worked on a new edition of the Descent of Man, and in July 1875 a new edition of The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication where he continued to look for proof of inheritance of acquired characteristics, so saying he no longer speculated about evolution looks plain wrong. Britannica seems to have gone downhill since it left Edinburgh....dave souza 20:54, 21 July 2005 (UTC)

I agree with the above. I wonder if Britannica really says that about him, honestly, it seems so ridiculous on the face of it. It also sounds like a not-very veiled attempt by Creationists to imply he was being published for his "heretical" work or something along those laughable lines. It would be also hard to pin down any period after the Beagle voyage when whatever Darwin wasn't speculating about evolution -- his personal notes and correspondence make it pretty clear he saw it in everything he did (or tried to see it, anyway). --Fastfission 20:57, 21 July 2005 (UTC)

re: the above

I gave the britannica article webpage citation I found via the search engines. it appears to be the full article. please look at the reference section.

Males more evoluted than females?

This quote:

According to Britannica, "Darwin was devoted to his wife and daughters but treated them as children, obliging Emma to ask him for the only key to the drawers containing all the keys to cupboards and other locked depositories. Darwin noted in The Descent that the young of both sexes resemble the adult female in most species and reasoned that males are more evolutionarily advanced than females."

was added by User:Creationist (see [4]). However I can't find it in the 1911 version of the britannica [5]. Does anyone have the reference to that? Nova77 02:35, 22 July 2005 (UTC)

The nearest I can find in Britannica 2004 DVD edition is the following:
"Long periods of debilitating sickness in the 1860s left the craggy, bearded Darwin thin and ravaged. He once vomited for 27 consecutive days. Down House was an infirmary where illness was the norm and Emma the attendant nurse. She was a shield, protecting the patriarch, cosseting him. Darwin was a typical Victorian in his racial and sexual stereotyping — however dependent on his redoubtable wife, he still thought women inferior; and although a fervent abolitionist, he still considered blacks a lower race. But few outside of the egalitarian socialists challenged these prejudices—and Darwin, immersed in a competitive Whig culture, and enshrining its values in his science, had no time for socialism."
Perhaps it's from a special U.S. version for creationists? Anyway, it begs the question of who was expected to be the keyholder in polite Victorian society, and what happened when Charles was away from home, as during the illness of Annie. I recommend removal, as it has only remote relevance to the Family section. Does someone want to start a new article on Darwin's political incorrectness by today's standards?.....dave souza 08:36, 22 July 2005 (UTC)
Indeed. I suggest removal too. The piece is misleading in not considering nor explaining the victorian context in which Darwing was living. If nobody is against I'll remove it. Nova77 14:54, 22 July 2005 (UTC)

re: the above

I gave the britannica article webpage citation I found via the search engines. it appears to be the full article. please look at the reference section.

I did a addtional search on the web. Here is what I found:

The major intellectual justification Darwin offered for his belief in women's inferiority, Kevles notes, is found in The Descent of Man. Here Darwin concluded the "young of both sexes resembled the adult female in most species" and from this and other evidence "Darwin reasoned that males are more evolutionarily advanced than females."16....

In support of this conclusion, Darwin used the example of Australian "savage" women, who "are the constant cause of war both between members of the same tribe and distinct tribes, producing sexual selection" due to sexual competition.27 He also cites the North American Indian custom which requires the husband to wrestle with male competitors to retain his wive; "the strongest party always carries off the prize."28 The result is, Darwin concluded, "a weak man ... is seldom permitted to keep a wife that a stronger man thinks worth his notice. This custom prevails throughout all of the tribes" in North America. It is not clear how common these practices were then, but they were not common in Europe and Asia.29.....

Darwin used several other examples to illustrate the evolutionary forces which he believed produced men of superior physical and intellectual strength, and docile, sexually coy women. Since humans evolved from animals and "no one disputes that the bull differs in disposition from the cow, the wild boar from the sow, the stallion from the mare, and, as is well known through the keepers of menageries, the males of the larger apes from the females," Darwin argued that similar differences existed among humans.30 Consequently, he concluded that men are, "more courageous, pugnacious and energetic than woman, and have more inventive genius."31...

The chief difference between men and women, however, lay in their intellectual power, "man attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can woman - whether requiring deep thought, reason or imagination or merely the uses of the senses and hands." Those striking differences, Darwin argued, could not have been the result of use and disuse, of the inheritance of acquired characters; for hard work and the development of muscles was not the prerogative of man: "in barbarian societies women work as hard or harder." ... Intellectual superiority of the human male was innate but how had it come about? By sexual selection, said Darwin, not by female choice.59

On this basis, he argued in The Descent that the higher education of women, which was being furiously contested in Victorian England, could have no long-term impact on this evolutionary trend to ever-increasing male intelligence. ... male intelligence would be constantly enhanced by the severe competitive struggle males necessarily underwent in order to maintain themselves and their families, and "this will tend to keep up or even increase their mental powers, and, as a consequence, the present inequality between the sexes.65


l Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1871 [1896 edition]).

4 Wilma George, Darwin (London: Fantana Paperbacks, 1982), 136.

16Bettyann Kevles, Females of the Species: Sex and Survival in the Animal Kingdom (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1986), 8.

27 Darwin, Descent, 561.

28 Ibid., 562.

29 Michael T. Ghiselin, The Economy of Nature and the Evolution of Sex (Berkeley, CA: Universitv of California Press, 1974); Mary Jane Sherfey, The Nature & Evolution of Female Sexuality (New York: Vintage Books, 1973); Mary Reige Laner, "Competition in Courtship" Family Relations, April 1986, 275-279; Kevles; W. Michael Becker and Carrie Miles, "Interpersonal Competition and Cooperation as a Function of Sex of Subject and Sex of Counterpart," The Journal of Social Psychology 104 (1978):303-304; John A. Phillips, Eve: The History of an Idea (San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1984); and Bernard Campbell, (Ed.), Sexual Selection and the Descent of Man 1871-1971 (Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company, 1972).

30 Darwin, Descent, 563.

31 Ibid., 557.

59 George, 74.

65 Richards, Real Charles Darwin, 886-887.

Here is the source:

If that webpage is down:

Well, it seems the sources are:
  • the link [6] showed in the reference. This website is advocating healing cristals, conspiracies, messages from other realms, etc.. I don't think this is a good source. Actually this reference should be erased.
  • the source, which advocates strongly for creationism (RAE stands for "Revolution Against Evolution"). This seems to biased to me.

Nova77 18:27, 22 July 2005 (UTC)

In Darwin's book the Descent of man, Darwin wrote: "The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shewn by man's attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can woman - whether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands"(Chapter 19, 1871 edition ). Picover wrote in his book "Strange Brains and Genius: The Secret Lives of Eccentric Scientists and Madmen" that although Darwin was devoted to his wife and children he treated his daughters like children even after they were full grown (p. 289).

Darwin, Descent of Man - Chapter 19 - Secondary Sexual Characters of Man

Glad to see you appreciating that Britannica isn't an unquestionable authority. So what have we? Darwin was paternalistic towards his girls, as was common at the time. Hardly worth having on this page, which is a stripped down summary of Darwin's life and work. Also, in the Descent of Man he considered the effects of sexual selection on humans, and expressed ideas about general male superiority (though probably not universal, considering his comments on the redoubtable Harriet Martineau) which we now find sexist. Something could go in the Descent of Man article, but it's too detailed for this page. Perhaps a new page on Charles Darwin's opinions? .... dave souza 21:24, 22 July 2005 (UTC)
All of this should (and will eventually) be covered in the article on Descent of Man specifically. Much of it is response to John Stuart Mill's work at the time and was part of a larger debate Darwin was engaged in with Alfred Russel Wallace. --Fastfission 22:21, 22 July 2005 (UTC)

TO: Dave Souza

If it was in Britinnica I believe it should be given the benefit of the doubt as far as historicity unless shown to be errant. It is not like it was in the National Inquirer. However, I don't know if it really was in Britannica. Secondly, I will put the info in Descent of man as far as the quote.


Encyclopedia Brittanica is an inferior source when information on Darwin is concerned -- there are many biographies written by excellent historians on him, and we would have to know who wrote the article for EB to evaluate whether they were a good historian or whether or not they were a scientist writing history (as is often the case -- Ghiselin is such a fellow, for example, and often does not understand the context very well in my experience (compared to people like Moore, Desmond, and Brown). --Fastfission 10:57, 23 July 2005 (UTC)
The Britannica 2004 DVD article on Darwin looked pretty good to me, and having checked the author it turns out to be Adrian J. Desmond (co-author with James Moore of Darwin). However, the same issue of Britannica has a most misleading article on "Jacobite" (unnamed author) which mentions "five attempts at restoration... of the exiled Stuarts" while missing out one of the larger attempts, the Jacobite Rising led by Bonnie Dundee, so I treat all the articles with suspicion., thanks for adding the info to Descent of Man. Fastfission's more of an expert, but it looks useful to me. Why not log in and get yourself a snappier user name?....dave souza 17:22, 25 July 2005 (UTC)
Well, if Desmond wrote it is probably not bad, though I'd prefer to quote from real secondary sources rather than tertiary sources whenever possible. Darwin did believe that women were inferior to men (in the human species, anyway), but it important to clarify what that meant in the context of his time, rather than just see what it would mean in the context of our time for someone to have that view. --Fastfission 11:37, 26 July 2005 (UTC)