Talk:Charles Darwin/Archive 9

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Archive 8 | Archive 9 | Archive 10

Image of Darwin with ape body restored[edit]

For background discussion see Talk:Charles Darwin/Archive 8#Image of Darwin with ape body restored

Not quite a dead horse, as Anarchangel similarly censored Browne's views as summarised at Reaction to Darwin's theory#Continued debate. So far I've not restored the comments on the ape issue, and was thinking of including Larson's views which tend to emphasise the anxieties over animal ancestry. Browne's comment on how it helped familiarise the British public with evolutionary ideas is quite nuanced, and my intention is to reconsider how best to summarise her views. Haven't got round to it yet. . . dave souza, talk 19:18, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

'English Naturalist'[edit]

I propose this be changed from English to British. It states in the info box that his nationality is British, so why is English used in the opening paragraph?

Darwin is associated with the United Kingdom far more than he is with the non-political entity of England, and lived in a time when the term British was overwhelmingly used ahead of English to describe ones nationality.

--GSTQuk (talk) 11:58, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

My 1976 Oxford Illustrated Dictionary page 215 starts with "English naturalist", but here are some Google and Google Scholar advanced search results (allintext: "English/British Naturalist" restricted to region United Kingdom):
The above searches do not include Darwin, the following do, without links:
  • Darwin "English Naturalist" Google=9,720; Scholar=1,010
  • Darwin "British Naturalist" Google=1,240; Scholar= 632
- 84user (talk) 13:17, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

Theist and evolutionist[edit]

I've undone a repeated attempt to introduce "absurd to doubt that a man might be an ardent theist and an evolutionist" into the religious views section, as Snalwibma noted previously, the word "evolutionist" now has misleading connotations. We've a good secondary source discussing "that an agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind", but no source discussing the "evolutionist" quote which is apt to mislead modern readers. That source includes a link to the text of the letter, so a citation linking directly to the letter is superfluous: given the continuing struggle to avoid the article getting too large, I'm inclined to remove that unnecessary direct quote. Also remember that this section is a WP:SUMMARY of the main article on Charles Darwin's views on religion where there's more room to expand on various points. . dave souza, talk 14:49, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

I don't see any evidence that "evolutionist" - which we all agree is what Darwin wrote - is sufficiently likely to mislead people to justify removing it. And there are plenty of secondary sources - I've added one. NBeale (talk) 16:35, 18 September 2009 (UTC)
Well, that's certainly a new source! It's not in today's paper, maybe they'll run it on Saturday. I'm still a bit concerned about how "evolutionist" will come across in cultural contexts less open to evolution than Grauniad reading Britain. Generally quite a good article, but not entirely accurate:

Plenty of Darwin's scientific contemporaries, men like John Stevens Henslow, Charles Lyell, Asa Gray, George Wright, Alexander Winchell, and James Dana, could accommodate their Christian beliefs with the new theory. Indeed, as historian James Moore has remarked "with but few exceptions the leading Christian thinkers in Great Britain and America came to terms quite readily with Darwinism and evolution."

Henslow defended Darwin's honesty and right to be heard but didn't agree with the theory, and died not that long after publication of OtOOS. Lyell had a long struggle to accommodate natural selection, and I don't think he fully did accept it. Moore's opinion is interesting, but he tends to be provocative and as Bowler has pointed out, the Darwinism that was widely accepted in the 1870s was a progressive goal-driven evolutionism, not natural selection which is implied by the modern usage of the term. So, any other views? Other sources would be useful to clarify what Darwin meant, rather than assuming that readers won't be misled by a commonly misused term. . . dave souza, talk 18:06, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

The family tree[edit]

I can see both sides of the view about inserting the family tree or not - but on the whole I think it adds value. What do others think? NBeale (talk) 23:32, 19 September 2009 (UTC)

I think the tree diagram is a little much for this article, which focuses on Darwin's life, and which is by no means overly brief :) However, I think the Darwin-Wedgwood family merits more than just aingle mention/link in the section on his children, especially since it is at least as relevent to the section on his childhood. Therefore I have been bold and changed the details template (with the "education" article) in the childhood section with a see also template for both the "education" and the "family" articles. I hope this helps rather than makes things worse. Rusty Cashman (talk) 07:00, 20 September 2009 (UTC)
Agree with Rusty, that's a worthwhile addition for anyone who wants to explore Darwin's ancestry. . dave souza, talk 10:18, 20 September 2009 (UTC)

Semiprotection review[edit]

  • 15:14, 23 October 2007 Pax:Vobiscum protected Charles Darwin ‎ (IP vandalism [edit=autoconfirmed:move=autoconfirmed])

That was nearly two years ago. I'd like to review this to see if semiprotection is still necessary. As well as welcoming the opinions of regular editors I have contacted Pax:Vobiscum, the protecting admin. --TS 10:51, 28 September 2009 (UTC)

I think it would be asking for trouble to remove it. NBeale (talk) 12:01, 28 September 2009 (UTC)
What kind of trouble? Surely any vandalism can be reverted, and if the quantity is high then the unprotection can be undone. --TS 12:06, 28 September 2009 (UTC)

I think it should stay protected. Evolution related articles are subject to much vandalism because of the emotional reactions many readers with strong POVs have to them. Normally that can be handled with reversion, but this article gets around 10K hits a day, and if even 0.1% or 0.2% of them result in vandalism (or even in good faith edits that are not appropriate) it is liable to drive the editors that patrol it nuts. I think there is a good case for leaving articles like this one and Evolution permanently semi-protected. Rusty Cashman (talk) 20:06, 28 September 2009 (UTC)

You're probably right. This is a history of the last 500 edits leading up to semiprotection of this article, and although there are some valuable IP edits the level of vandalism had been chronically quite high and probably disrupted normal editing. --TS 21:20, 28 September 2009 (UTC)
There is no harm in unprotecting the article for a trial period. Nothing will be lost, except the time of interested editors. I say unprotect it, see what happens. Parrot of Doom 11:05, 29 September 2009 (UTC)
I expect such a trial would prove pointless. I can attest from my experience with the Galileo Galilei article that dealing with the levels of vandalism indicated in TS's diff is a right royal pain to the editors who try to do so. And every time semiprotection has been removed from that article during the time I have been monitoring it (since mid 2007), the level of IP vandalism has rapidly risen to such frustrating levels that some editor (me three times) has soon become so fed up as to request that it be reimposed.
Here is a fairly typical list of 50 edits to the Charles Darwin article from a period of 9 days when it was unprotected. Of those 50 edits, fully 43 were vandalism or other unproductive edits by IPs, or reversions of those edits by other editors. One of those 43 edits was the addition of an inappropriate external link, but almost certainly made in good faith, a second was a tendentious removal of material the IP disagreed with, but could be assumed to have been made in good faith, rather than being outright vandalism, and a third might have been the result an error in an attempt at a good-faith edit. The remaining 40 were 20 pairs of obvious outright vandalism and subsequent reversion, and there was not a single productive edit by an IP among the total of 50.
I wouldn't particularly object to this article's being unprotected for a trial period, but if anyone does decide to unprotect it I would urge them to please, please, keep monitoring it, and rapidly reimpose semiprotection whenever the amount of IP vandalism shows any signs of increasing to its previous levels.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 15:08, 29 September 2009 (UTC)
I'm also hesitant to try unprotection, few subjects are as likely to draw vandalism as Darwin/Evolution. If any other admin would like to unprotect and monitor the article for a while I have nothing to object. Best wishes/ Pax:Vobiscum (talk) 16:32, 29 September 2009 (UTC)
Actually there may be a solution to this problem in the not to distant future. I realize that the plan is to target WP:flagged revisions at articles with WP:BLP issues initially, but an article with high traffic and a (in some quarters at least) controversial topic like this one would also be a good candidate. Rusty Cashman (talk) 04:23, 9 October 2009 (UTC)


"A dramatic motion picture entitled Creation is being released in 2009, joining a short list of film dramas about Darwin, including The Darwin Adventure, released in 1972."

It HAS now been released (Friday, 25th September 2009) in the U.K. and it is brilliant!

Martin Packer

Fixed. I hope they eventually release it in the U.S. so I can see it, sigh. Rusty Cashman (talk) 17:52, 29 September 2009 (UTC)
Apparently sorted out now. Also you'll presumably be able to see a NOVA film on PBS which also sounds pretty good. Must try to see Creation myself, not sure when it's going to be on locally. . dave souza, talk 19:20, 29 September 2009 (UTC)
Good I am sure it will probably be a limited release (as it will lack explosions, car chases, sex scenes, and CGI aliens), but for this one I will drive across town. Rusty Cashman (talk) 04:42, 30 September 2009 (UTC)

Restored Discussion[edit]

Boy, you sure do have a nerve, Souza. Anarchangel (talk) 13:06, 2 October 2009 (UTC)

Image of Darwin with ape body restored[edit]

I have restored the image of the cartoon of Darwin with an ape body that was deleted from the article. This image is commonly associated with the 19th century debate over Darwin's ideas and that makes it highly approrpiate for this article. The image that it was replaced with is also iconic but not nearly as appropriate for a discussion of the reaction to Darwin's work.Rusty Cashman (talk) 06:31, 7 September 2009 (UTC)

No. You are mistaken. It was a farcical caricature, not 'iconic'. The image is in nine other articles, & while it suits 'Controversy' type articles, it is not about Darwin or his work. Take a look at the URL [ that has been at the top of the image's talk page for the whole month of the RFC that concluded that the image should be removed: it is straight up farcical caricature. The Huxley diagram illuminates the fact that the progression of ape to man, printed in a million textbooks, came from Huxley, not Darwin. That remedy to misinformation needs to be where it will do the most good, as well as Huxley's article. Anarchangel (talk) 10:32, 7 September 2009 (UTC)
Repeating from the image talk page, Anarchangel's opinion is uninformed original research: Browne is someone to take very seriously regarding Darwin, and having slept on the problem I fully support Rusty on this. As it happens, Browne p. 377 discusses this specific image as appearing in March 1871, one month after publication of Descent of Man, and as typifying cartoons that readily identified Darwin as the author of the theory. He responded to a similar cartoon in the same paper by asking a visiting guest "Have you seen me in the Hornet?" Darwin showed it off very pleasantly, saying "The head is cleverly done, but the gorilla is bad: too much chest, it shouldn't be like that." Will review the image caption in that light. . dave souza, talk 11:22, 7 September 2009 (UTC) (self-corrected spelling 16:48, 7 September 2009 (UTC))
There is no such thing as original research in a discussion. Pretty hard to be 'uninformed' about an opinion like 'Browne is someone to take seriously, too. Darwin's aplomb and magnanimity aside, putting a subject's head on an animal body is a last resort for cartoonists. Anarchangel (talk)
I fully agree with Rusty Cashman and dave souza. When Anarchangel writes
" ... the RFC that concluded that the image should be removed: ...",
he is misstating the outcome of that RFC. When the RFC was closed on August 22nd, there had been no suggestion whatever that the Hornet image be removed from this particular article, let alone a consensus having been reached to do so. In fact the only mention of this article in the Rfc was by Anarchangel himself:
"I support the image's inclusion in Charles Darwin, as it includes his image, albeit a caricature."
Obviously he has since changed his mind (which he is perfectly entitled to do), but he did not make this change of mind apparent anywhere in the Rfc (not, at least, before it was closed), so I am completely baffled as to how he can assert that there was any consensus to remove the image from this article.
—This is part of a comment by David J Wilson (of 15:52, 7 September 2009 (UTC)), which was interrupted by the following:
My bad. It was six weeks ago. However, is the meaning of consensus really that confusing? Surely the five to one vote in the RFC, agreeing that the image was in way too many articles and should be removed, was worthy of mention. Anarchangel (talk) 07:28, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
The image seems to me to be a reasonable representative of the many similar cartoons which appeared in British humorous magazines after the publication of On the Origin of Species, and on Janet Browne's analysis, seems to me to be perfectly appropriate for inclusion in the section Responses to the publication, as an illustration of Darwin's influence on the contents of those magazines. While I see nothing wrong with also including the illustration from Huxley's book (in a different section), it cleary cannot serve the same purpose as the removed image, and is not suitable as a replacement for it.
Janet Browne's analysis of these types of cartoons and the texts which accompanied them seems to me to be spot on. When Anarchangel says (in the now closed Rfc) that "Janet Brown is mistaken", it is not clear whether he has actually read Browne's analysis, or is merely disagreeing with Rusty Cashman's and dave souza's description of the image as "iconic", and has mistakenly assumed that Browne also used that term.see note If the former, then in my opinion it is certainly Anarchangel, rather than Ms Browne who is mistaken. But, in any case, by Wikipedia's standards, Browne's biography is an impeccable source,
so editors' opinions on whether she is correct or not are completely irrelevant.
If Anarchangel wants to rely on his own contrary opinion as a pretext for removing the image, he will need to back it up by citing an equally authoritative source which supports it.</di >
—This is part of a comment by David J Wilson (of 15:52, 7 September 2009 (UTC)), which was interrupted by the following:
No, I do not need to do any such thing, actually. The onus is on you to provide reasons for inclusion (WP:V), and 'spot on' just is not going to cut the mustard. Anarchangel (talk) 07:28, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
Note. Which, as far as I can tell, she never did. I do not here mean to imply that dave souza and Rusty Cashman were wrong to use that term. In my opinion, arguments over whether the image could reasonably be called "iconic" are a largely irrelevant distraction. What matters is whether the image is a reasonable representative of the sorts of cartoons that appeared widely in British humorous magazines after the publication of On the Origin of Species. According to Janet Browne's account, it is.

David Wilson (talk · cont) 15:52, 7 September 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for these comments and support, it's likely as you suggest that Anarchangel was disagreeing with my comments based on an overview of Janet Browne's views, not anything specifically stated by Browne, and I'm grateful to Anarchangel for putting forward the above link which puts the image in context. Originally I put together a caption aimed at summarising pp. 376–379 of Browne's book, with no certainty as to which cartoon this was: the caption and the date make it clear that Browne has commented on this specific image as typifying cartoons that readily identified Darwin as the author of the theory. In my view "iconic" summarises that sentiment, but I'll think it over. Browne's earlier comments about British cartoonists presenting Darwin's theory in an unthreatening way are more concerned with other cartoons parodying his evolutionary views in an everyday setting, the issue may be best mentioned in the body text with the image caption being made more specific. Either way, this is one article where the image is well justified: Browne is probably the foremost Darwin biographer, and the fact that she devotes several pages to this specific issue of cartoons portraying Darwin as an ape or monkey confirms its notability for this bio. . dave souza, talk 17:11, 7 September 2009 (UTC)
Y, w/e. See below for my opinion on Browne, as if it matters one way or the other, and my argument for deletion, below, which most certainly does. I concede that "Browne is wrong" was too brief to answer, yet all you have presented here is conjecture upon it. You need to be concentrating on reasons for inclusion, and more importantly, the means by which it can be included without my objection, as below. Anarchangel (talk) 07:28, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
Since writing the above, I have noticed one discrepancy (relatively minor, in my opinion) in the use of the Hornet image. It was published in March 1871, and in the text which accompanies it,the editor jocularly says he made the cartoonist "take a solemn vow that he would read Mr. Darwin's new work [emphasis mine] right through, ... ". This new work must have been The Descent of Man, which had just been published in the preceding month. Thus the appearance of the cartoon was a response to the publication of The Descent of Man, whereas its inclusion in the section Responses to the publication tends to suggest that it was a response to the publication of On the Origin of Species. I don't think this matters all that much, but in the interests of accuracy, when the image is reincluded in the article (as it should be), I think it would be worth adding a short clarification to one of the footnotes cited in the image's caption.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 17:24, 7 September 2009 (UTC)
Have rethought tha caption, and added commentary on the issue to the body text. Hope that's an improvement. . . dave souza, talk 14:34, 8 September 2009 (UTC)
Looks good to me.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 08:45, 9 September 2009 (UTC)
Woah, down, there. That there are three editors that will respond within a day to an image change goes a long way to explaining why this image is still here. But you are not getting a consensus that easily. I might have gone along with it if you had not tried to steamroll it through, but you have to come up with reasons for inclusion, as the burden of evidence is on you. I do not see much convincing being done here, but a whole lot of you being convinced by each other.
The reason I know that Janet Browne's stuff is crap is, one, it smells like crap, and two, because exactly the same thing was said about Darwin at every opportunity: in image captions, in full uncited paragraphs, and it was always the same guff about how attack caricatures are really just "non-threatening" or "unthreatening". It was fairly obvious, long before it was clarified that Brown was the source of the 'unthreatening' term, that someone had taken a big old drink at someone's punch bowl; I could smell it a mile away.
Had she written Hamlet, Janet Brown would still have to be taken pretty seriously, for her comments to be presented, without citation, or mention that it is only her saying it, as though it were the consensus of the entire historical community. I have no objection to the inclusion of the statement in its entirety, as long as it is clear that it is only her scholarly opinion. Of course it would be civil of someone to get a few citations of her by other people, and another source saying the same thing about unthreateningariness or w/e would be dandy also.
The cartoon itself is a low blow. The double meaning is, Darwin does that funny ape theory, and, as it would be for any public figure given an animal body, Darwin is an animal. Such caricatures of no one else living or dead would be allowed on their pages, and the first meaning's virtue does not attone for the second's vice by a long shot.
I concede that I have changed my mind, since six weeks ago. I concede that the editors that responded to the RFC, in regard to the image's presence in no fewer than TEN articles, did not single out this one as I did, either for deletion or keeping. But it is quite wrong to imply that the RFC has no bearing on this article. And as there seems to be difficulty relating the events of the RFC without Telephone (game) errors, I reprint it here. Anarchangel (talk) 07:28, 10 September 2009 (UTC)

" - From the RFC at File talk:Darwin ape.jpg
Darwin as ape overused
I call this RFC for the reason that this image has proliferated in an unwarranted manner (10 mainspace articles), and to find suitable replacements for this image in as many of the articles as consensus indicates. Anarchangel (talk) 03:49, 23 July 2009 (UTC)

No fewer than 10 mainspace articles use this image. Would not have made it into any of them were it not for the unhallowed ground that is the inevitable 'Criticism' and 'Response to X's theories' sections? :) I propose that a free use version of the familiar image of the Ascent of Man (a version shown here) might be a suitable replacement for many uses. I support the image's inclusion in Charles Darwin, as it includes his image, albeit a caricature. It obviously belongs in Portraits of Charles Darwin. It also could exist side-by-side with shall we say, more serious representations of Darwin and/or his theories. Anarchangel (talk) 03:49, 23 July 2009 (UTC)

I agree totally. The main appeal of this picture is that it makes evolution look silly, and also ape-men are funny. There aren't all that many places it could comfortably fit in. BTW, this does look to be a reproduction of this. ▫ JohnnyMrNinja 06:56, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
I also agree completely. It is clearly being used in ways that don't benefit Wikipedia. Dougweller (talk) 07:32, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
I agree and suggest that the ideal number of articles for the image to appear in may be about one to three articles (not zero!). Coppertwig (talk) 02:02, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
Good call! Is definitely overused. I commend the user for even finding this. Seb az86556 (talk) 15:38, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
I'm afraid I don't quite understand the complaint here. In which ways that "don't benefit Wikipedia" is the image being used? Anarchangel, you list some articles which you say the image is appropriate for, but why exactly do you (or anyone else who's commented) think it's inappropriate for the others? I'd say that it's eminently appropriate in Reaction to Darwin's theory and History of the creation-evolution controversy, for example. I disagree that its main appeal is that it "makes evolution look silly". That was obviously its author's intent, but in the context of an encyclopedia its role is to show one of the ways that critics of evolution have tried to make it look silly, including the fact that criticism of Darwin often included ad-hominem attacks as well as scientific or religious arguments.
Or is the objection directly to the number of articles, not to specific ones? I can imagine the argument "people browsing through the evolution/creationism articles will get fed up of that image and we should have some variety" being proposed, but since it hasn't been explicitly put forward I'm not sure what you think is wrong per se with having it in so many places (if indeed you do).
I'd be interested to hear your motivation for objecting. Olaf Davis (talk) 13:23, 1 August 2009 (UTC)
The reaction to Darwin's theory is, as they say, history. The vast majority of scientists support it, and although the charicature of Darwin may represent a minority of popular opinion at the time, it is by no means a mainstream reaction to his theories. I don't support its inclusion in "Reaction to Darwin's theory" just for the sake of supposed balance, in fact I think its inclusion is imbalanced. Of the inclusions that I oppose, "Reaction" is by far one of the weaker ones, as there is some basis for it. It's all very well to take its inclusion on a case by case basis, but something is very wrong with the assessment, I feel, if it is considered the best picture available for all of them. So the answer to, do I object to individual inclusions, or as a whole, is, 'both'.
More important than which are to be deleted, to me, is finding a substitute of the kind I described above. The progression from ape to Man is an iconic 19th and 20th century image that a cartoon cannot hope to match; if anyone knows of an example of this image we could use, please let us know. Anarchangel (talk) 15:43, 1 August 2009 (UTC)
Hmmm. My understanding is that, at the time, the viewpoint this cartoon represents was pretty widespread and its inclusion isn't therefore unbalanced (though obviously we shouldn't include it to give actual Creationist viewpoints balance - just balanced coverage of the history).
I agree though that looking at alternatives is likely to be a more profitable route. Hopefully we can find a good one, and then come back to discuss for which pages it's better than this cartoon. Olaf Davis (talk) 08:50, 2 August 2009 (UTC)
Seems to me that any substitute image would have either the same problem, or a total lack of relevance. A better approach would be to simply remove the images. For example, substituting one of the versions of Ascent of Man with Darwin in the final position would not improve matters, and any other version would not be relevant to a discussion of the critical reception of evolution. Ben Standeven (talk) 19:09, 4 August 2009 (UTC)

- End quote from RFC - File talk:Darwin ape.jpg Anarchangel (talk) 07:28, 10 September 2009 (UTC)

Your change of opinion is noted: your new view in relation to this article is clearly not supported by the RfC, and any decisions have to be resolved on this talk page, not on a discussion about the image itself which was not notified on this talk page. Your lack of a source to verify your revised opinion is also noted. . . dave souza, talk 17:11, 10 September 2009 (UTC)

Respond to my points, please.Anarchangel (talk) 23:35, 10 September 2009 (UTC)

Above, I wrote:
"If Anarchangel wants to rely on his own contrary opinion as a pretext for removing the image, he will need to back it up by citing an equally authoritative source which supports it."
Anarchangel replied
"No, I do not need to do any such thing, actually. ... "
Oh yes, I'm afraid you do, actually.
" ... The onus is on you to provide reasons for inclusion (WP:V), ... "
That onus has already been met. Janet Browne's biography is a reliable, published source, as required by Wikipedia's criteria of verifiability, and she herself has an impeccable reputation for fact-checking and accuracy, as required by those same criteria (see below). These assertions are eminently verifiable by reading the reviews of her book that have appeared in numerous reliable sources, and can be easily found with a simple google search.
" ... and 'spot on' just is not going to cut the mustard. ... "
As I have already acknowledged, Wikipedia's editors' own opinions on the matter (including both mine and Anarchangel's) are irrelevant—unless, of course, they can back those opinions up by citing reliable sources to support them. The crucial difference between my opinion and Anarchangel's is that I can (and will—see below) do precisely that, because I have done my homework. Anarchangel, on the other hand has failed to do his, so his opinion remains ill-informed and incapable of being supported by such sources. If anyone doubts this, I challenge them to provide a single reliable source which contains any major criticism of Janet Browne's biography, faults her accuracy, or her reputation for fact-checking, or contradicts any of the information from her biography which has been included in the article.
Is Janet Browne's The Power of Place a reliable source?
The evidence that it is, as documented in innumerable reliable sources, is overwhelming.
It has received wide acclaim from reviewers in reputable mainstream newspapers, popular magazines and scholarly journals (see citations below). The tone of the reviews ranges from moderately positive to fulsome, most tending towards the latter rather than the former, with only a handful of them voicing any criticism at all, and all that which has been voiced is trivial. I have yet to find a single negative review. The reviewers have included many professional academic historians of science, and such distinguished scholars as Ernst Mayr and Peter J. Bowler, both of whom praised the book highly.
The Power of Place received the 2002 National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography, and, more significantly, the 2004 Pfizer Prize awarded by the History of Science Society, a society of professional historians of science. Here is an extract from the citation for the Pfizer, signed by Lisbet Rausing, John Harley Warner & Crosbie Smith (Chair):
"For her impressive works of scholarship, exemplified in this volume, our scholarly community stand deeply in debt to Janet Browne."
Here are some google search pages containing links to numerous reviews of The Power of Place in reliable sources. I have listed 18 of them below, together with some of the most positive quotations from each, to give a flavour of how extremely well-regarded Browne's book has been. These links were not cherry-picked. I waded through the first 15 or so pages of the google search, and if I saw that a review was from a source that I recognised to be reputable, I read it and included it in the list. I did not eliminate any negative reviews from the list—in fact I couldn't, because I didn't find any.
I invite Anarchangel, or anyone else who thinks his opinion of Janet Browne's biography has any merit, to wade through 15 or so pages from the google search (as I have done) to try and find a scintilla of evidence to support it. I am confident they will find none.
If Anarchangel is unwilling either to provide a reliable source to support his opinion, or to concede that it is ill-informed and change it, then the only way I can see for the issue to be resolved is to take it to dispute resolution. A request posted to the reliable sources noticeboard would appear to me to be the most appropriate course to take at this stage. If he is unwilling to do even that, then I certainly will.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 09:20, 12 September 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for all that confirmation that Browne is a reliable source, and indeed is currently the foremost Darwin biographer. To add another historian who values her work, see the recommendations at the foot of this page by John van Wyhe. The complaints by Anarchangel are out of line, unsupported by evidence or by consensus, and are becoming increasingly tendentious. Furher action should not be necessary. . dave souza, talk 09:33, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
Certainly a Reliable Source and undoubtedly one of the foremost Darwin biographers. NBeale (talk) 16:44, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

I think this issue is pretty much a dead horse at this point, but Browne is hardly alone among reputable historians in seeing this sort of cartoon as illustrative of the contemporary reaction to Darwin's ideas. On page 135 of Edward Larson's Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory (2004) there is a similar cartoon of Darwin with the body of a long tailed monkey (rather than the ape body of the Hornet cartoon), discussing his theory to a fashionably dressed young woman, which was published in 1872 as part of the reaction to Descent of Man. Good natured or not, such humor reflected the public's anxiety over some of the issues raised by the scientific debate over human origins during Darwin's life time, which makes such an image perfectly appropriate for an article like this one that discusses the contemporary reaction to Darwin's work. Rusty Cashman (talk) 18:52, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

Not quite a dead horse, as Anarchangel similarly censored Browne's views as aummarised at Reaction to Darwin's theory#Continued debate. So far I've not restored the comments on the ape issue, and was thinking of including Larson's views which tend to emphasise the anxieties over animal ancestry. Browne's comment on how it helped familiarise the British public with evolutionary ideas is quite nuanced, and my intention is to reconsider how best to summarise her views. Haven't got round to it yet. . . dave souza, talk 19:18, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

Restored discussion. You sure do have a nerve, Souza. Not only did the entirety of your discussion serve no other purpose than to wave at dissent to make it go away, not content with that, you attempt to bury it in the archives. That is not going to happen. You still have not addressed my central point, which is that Browne is entirely alone in her quixotic flagbearing of 'kindly' criticism of Darwin, when anyone with working vision can see that apeman depictions are anything but. Remember, Einstein was wrong about subatomic physics. Does not really matter how many accolades Browne has, does it? Anarchangel (talk) 13:06, 2 October 2009 (UTC)

You're beating a dead horse, and have no consensus for your original research trying to override a highly esteemed source. An unsourced fringe view does not equal dissent. The fact that you fail to grasp the significance of these cartoons in their Victorian context emphasises the need to be explicit about what this historian in particula notes about their impact at the time. Got any other reliable sources on that specific subject? . dave souza, talk 14:08, 2 October 2009 (UTC)
By my count, three editors have supported the restoration of the ape body image to this article, and one has opposed it (and I join the three to make four). The last comment was on 18 September 2009, so it is entirely appropriate for this long discussion to be archived on 2 October 2009, and Anarchangel's criticism of dave souza is totally unjustified. This issue has been thoroughly examined in the above discussion and no new points have been raised. Johnuniq (talk) 01:50, 3 October 2009 (UTC)

Eugenics Section[edit]

The Eugenics section is particularly Descent of Man, Darwin expressly states that the poor should not procreate, nor should anyone who has a non-normative corporeality: "Both sexes ought to refrain from marriage if they are in any marked degree inferior in body or mind; but such hopes are Utopian and will never be even partially realized until the laws of inheritance are thoroughly known" (688, Penguin Edition). Additionally, on the same page he writes: "all ought to refrain from marriage who cannot avoid abject poverty for their children." When I have more time, I plan to revise this section so as not to suggest that Galton was solely responsible for disseminating these ideas--yes, Darwin cites Galton in Descent, but these ideas ARE Darwin's own, and to misrepresent the idea of social engineering or Eugenics as being a misreading of Darwin is disingenuous at best. Gramsci3000 (talk) 23:45, 26 October 2009 (UTC)

You appear to have a simplistic misunderstanding of Darwin's commentary in Descent on the ideas of Galton and Greg. If anything, Darwin had a nagging concern that he should not have procreated with his cousin Emma, but his caution about the need to understand the laws of inheritance was accurate. Less fortunately, Galton disagreed with Darwin on patterns of inheritance, though he also drew back from the idea of compulsory negative eugenics. The real problem arose with the confidence about hard inheritance during the rise of Mendelian genetics: when I've more time there's some info in Bowler's book on the influence of Darwin which could usefully improve this section. Which reminds me, you seem to be proposing original research on the basis of your reading of primary sources: compliance with WP:PSTS is essential. . . dave souza, talk 00:18, 27 October 2009 (UTC)

Darwin in popular culture[edit]

The article is already suffering from excessive size, so I've removed this new addition:

Charles Darwin is often referred to in Scott Westerfeld's novel Leviathan for his theory but also for discovering the Life threads.

There are other instances where Darwin appears in novels, and there are the recent docu-dramas such as Creation. Provided that the significance of examples is verified by citations, these could be incorporated into a new main article on Charles Darwin in popular culture, but we really have to try to keep this main article to a minimum size while covering the most important issues. . . dave souza, talk 12:07, 27 October 2009 (UTC)

Less Than Neutral Opening Sentence[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

The wording of the opening sentence is currently supported by policy and consensus. This discussion, originally on that subject, has veered off course and is now contrary to WP:FORUM. --TS 15:41, 2 November 2009 (UTC)


Although I firmly believe in evolution and the common origin of species, I must take issue with the use of the word "realized" in the opening sentence of this article. A (vastly) more appropriate and neutral word to use in its place would be "observed." I think I am authorized to edit semi-protected pages, but I would like to place this notice on the discussion page before doing so. If I don't receive any responses to this in the next few days, I'll see if I can make the edit. If not, I'll contact someone who can. Lionboy-Renae (talk) 01:51, 29 October 2009 (UTC)

You seem to be confusing "neutral" with giving undue weight to non-scientific views, or even with Foxian "fair and balanced", which is against Wikipedia WP:NPOV policy. As an article about a science subject, this article appropriately makes necessary assumptions about the validity of evolutionary science, and certainly does not "give equal validity" to fringe pseudoscientific views. While I don't myself believe in evolution, the current opening accurately reflects the overwhelming scientific consensus and should not be weakened in the way you propose. Thanks, dave souza, talk 12:07, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
Lionboy-Renae to Dave souza: No, no, my objection wasn't meant to give weight to creationist theories or anything, the reason why I object to the word "realize" is a purely scientific one. You see, evolution (like gravity, or any other commonly accepted theory) is just that, a theory, and (hypothetically), if in the future a more correct theory were proposed which (once again, hypothetically) proved Darwin's theory wrong, then "realized" would be a retrospectively poor choice of wording. Science always changes when new evidence is introduced, and new ideas are proposed to explain new evidence. To use "realize" is to assume that evolutionary science as Darwin proposed it is stagnant and permanent, like a religion, which it isn't. Isaac Newton "observed" that gravity pulled the apple from the tree, and Charles Darwin "observed" that all species originate through the process of natural selection from a common ancestor. Neither of them "realized" anything; "realization" does not happen in true science, only "observation" and attempted "explanation." Lionboy-Renae (talk) 20:08, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
See evolution as theory and fact, and making necessary assumptions. While I appreciate that gravity is "only a theory", we have to be put things very clearly in the context of widespread misunderstandings spread by intelligent falling proponents. . . dave souza, talk 21:11, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
Logicus to Lionboy-Renae: You are surely right about the opening sentence being 'less than neutral', but I disagree with your proposed edit. I offer the following analysis and alternative edit.
Setting aside the main problem that the key claim of the opening sentence is grossly false and the long standing Wiki-scandal that its sources are failed verifications because it seems nobody has claimed Darwin presented any compelling evidence for his common ancestry hypothesis, and that no Wiki editor has yet managed to find any verifying source for this claim, there is also the issue that the ‘realisation’ claim is anyway either meaningless nonsense or else outrageously biased.
On the following interpretation of the meaning of this sentence, it says ‘Darwin realised and presented compelling evidence for some thesis’, whereby ‘compelling evidence' is the same object of both of the verbs ‘realized’ and ‘presented’. But this interpretation is meaningless nonsense inasmuch as evidence is not something that is ‘realised’. Hence the sentence must surely be intended to mean:
‘Darwin realised that all species of life have evolved over time from common ancestors,[1][2] through the process he called natural selection, and presented compelling evidence for this.’
I therefore edit it to this latter form. This also makes its non-neutral bias much more evident.
Contra souza, there is no scientific consensus that Darwin presented compelling evidence for his common ancestry hypothesis, which is why souza and his fellow Wiki Darwin hagiographers have been notably unable to find any source that claims he did.--Logicus (talk) 01:26, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
The result of your edit has confused the issue of evidence for common descent and evidence for natural selection. They are not the same thing. They have to be treated differently because within a decade or so of the publicatio of On the Origin of Species the majority of scientists had come to accept common descent, but natural selection was not widely accepted in scientific circles as the key evolutionary mechanism until will into the 20th century during the [[modern evolutionary synthesis]. Therefore I am backing up to the original wording and then tweaking to address the confusion. Rusty Cashman (talk) 08:58, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
Logicus to Cashman: My edit introduced no such confusion. If there was such, it was also in the original sentence, which claimed Darwin presented compelling evidence for both of the two different hypotheses of common descent and of natural selection in evolution, and which my edit preserved. For it said ”[Darwin] realised that all species of life have evolved over time from common ancestors, [and] through the process he called natural selection, and presented compelling evidence for [each of] this [conjunction of two hypotheses].[1][2 [My inserts to clarify what is surely the most obvious meaning here]. You are of course quite right that they are at least two different hypotheses, as I have previously pointed out when also pointing out Darwin presented no evidence for either of them, compelling nor otherwise. However, note that it could also be construed as claiming there were three different hypotheses for which Darwin presented compelling evidence, namely the hypotheses of 1) evolution over time, 2) common ancestry and 3) natural selection.--Logicus (talk) 16:35, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
I don't think the original sentence was as confusing as you claim, but I have been bold and broken it up in a way that I hope makes the meaning absolutely clear. If As for your assertion "there is no scientific consensus that Darwin presented compelling evidence for his common ancestry hypothesis" the source cited in detail (Coyne 2009) is quite clear. Rusty Cashman (talk) 09:28, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
Logicus to Cashman: I very much like your edit because it at least now withdraws the previous mistaken claim that Darwin presented compelling evidence for natural selection, something I had been unable to achieve after persistent efforts against opposition, even including opposition from yourself as I recall. The compelling evidence claim is now more modestly restricted just to the hypothesis of common ancestry, whatever that was. Thanks for that !
As for the failed verification for this claim, you are quite right that Coyne 2009 is quite clear. Indeed it is very clear that he makes no reference whatever to the hypothesis of common descent nor to any evidence presented for it, as I hope you can see if you scan the following quotation provided: “In The Origin, Darwin provided an alternative hypothesis for the development , diversification, and design of life. Much of that book presents evidence that not only supports evolution but at the same time refutes creationism. In Darwin's day, the evidence for his theories was compelling but not completely decisive.” To get this to verify that Darwin presented compelling evidence for his theory of common ancestry, you would have to misread this last sentence to say ‘In Darwin's day, the evidence for [all of] his theories [, including his theory of common ancestry,] was compelling [and was presented by Darwin] but not completely decisive.’ OK ? On this basis I flag it as a failed verification.
For your info, the edit that would satisfy me for neutrality would be
‘…who hypothesised that all species of life have evolved over time from common ancestors.‘
This at least gets rid of the contentious issue of whether common ancestry is fact or hypothesis, and of whether Darwin presented any compelling evidence for it. The issue of whether he did or not, and whether any verifying source can be found for this claim, can always then be raised and discussed later in the article. --Logicus (talk) 17:13, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
I suspect there may be a dialect- (and possibly age-) related difference in the idiom governing the use of the word "realise". I had a reaction very similar to Logicus's on reading the original version of the sentence. I presume the word "realise" was there intended to mean something like its first sense listed in my Macquarie dictionary—namely, "grasp, or understand clearly". While I can't offer any rational reason why "realise" with that sense shouldn't take a word like "evidence" as an object, the fact is that it sounds so incongruous to me that I suspect most Australian (and, I presume, British) English speakers of my vintage would regard it's doing so as incorrect.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 14:29, 1 November 2009 (UTC)

I think there is probably agreement that the original wording was not ideal. I also think any reasonable reading of Coyne makes it clear that when he speaks of "diversification" he is discussing descent from common ancestors. The text of the lead makes it perfectly clear (and has for some time) that Darwin was very succesful in convincing the scientific community that the diversity of life arose through a process of descent with modification (ie evolution) but not nearly as succesful (at least not in his life time) in convincing them that natural selection was the key to evolution. The issue of how Darwin's ideas were actually received is discussed in much more detail in other articles including On the Origin of Species, History of evolutionary thought, and reaction to Darwin's theory. For more on the debate over natural selection you can also see the eclipse of Darwinism and modern evolutionary synthesis. This entire area has been much analyzed by historians of science and there is pretty solid consensus on what actually happened. Rusty Cashman (talk) 19:29, 1 November 2009 (UTC)

Logicus to Cashman: OK, thanks for that acknowledgment ! However, I still regard the Coyne quote as a hopelessly muddled non-verification. But just let us just suppose for the sake of argument that you could actually find a source that claims Darwin presented compelling evidence for his hypothesis of common ancestry. But the question this would immediately then raise would be, What exactly is that evidence ? As I recall in ‘’Origin’’ Darwin had two different creationist common ancestry hypotheses. One was that current plants and animals are all descended from original creations of just 5 or 6 different forms in each case, hence from 10 or a dozen different originally created forms. The other was that maybe all plants and animals are descended from just one original primeval life-form created by God. But please do tell me what empirical evidence he presented for either of these two speculative hypotheses, because I have not been able to find any, nor find any source that cites any. Does Coyne cite any ? I suspect not ! --Logicus (talk) 00:11, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
Hi, Logicus, your argument from personal ignorance against a cited expert opinion appears to be a repetition of your hopelessly muddled and tendentious behaviour. Per WP:TALK, you should not be using this page as a forum to argue your personal point of view. This page is a forum to discuss how the article should reflect the different points of view obtained from secondary sources, not a place for you to request that others do original research to satisfy your personal doubts. The specific question you raise is covered by various secondary sources, for example Bowler, Peter J. (1996). Charles Darwin: the man and his influence. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 120–123. ISBN 0-521-56668-1.  points to extensive evidence presented by Darwin to support his theory of common descent. . . dave souza, talk 11:39, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Less than neutral opening sentence (continued)[edit]

Repetition of previously well-explored argument against consensus.
The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.

Logicus to Tony Sidaway: Would you please kindly explain why you have taken the apparently pointless action of 'archiving' the previous discussion about the opening sentence, whatever that means. What is it intended to achieve ?

  • I most strongly object to the following false claim you make and request it be immediately withdrawn.

"This discussion, originally on that subject, has veered off to discussing one editor's personal disbelief in the longstanding scientific consensus on common descent, contrary to WP:FORUM. "

I object that the discussion did not veer off topic, but stayed tightly focused on the subject of the opening sentence and the failed verification of its false OR claim that Darwin presented compelling evidence for his common ancestry hypothesis. That editor apparently referred to, presumably me, expressed no personal disbelief whatever in "the longstanding scientific consensus on common descent", whatever that consensus may be, if any. Rather that editor simply pointed out that Darwin never presented any compelling evidence for either of his two common ancestry hypotheses raised in Origin, neither for his multiple ancestry hypothesis, nor for his mono-ancestry hypothesis, and moreover that the sources cited for this claim, and the Coyne source in particular, do not in fact claim he did either, and are thus failed verifications. Most particularly I challenged Cashman to say what Coyne claims that compelling evidence was, because it is unlikely Coyne cites any. Cashman did not respond, suggesting Coyne cites none, as I suspected. But in his personally rude and mistaken comments souza notably failed to say what the compelling evidence Darwin presented was according to Coyne, but claimed there is a Bowler source for such on pp120-123 of his 1996 Charles Darwin . So it seems this now raises the issue of whether the justifying source for this claim should be Coyne or Bowler ? However, the choice seems academic, since contrary to souza's imagination, nowhere on those pages cited does Bowler claim Darwin presented any compelling evidence for common ancestry. So presumably souza should now quote the passage(s) where he thinks Bowler does make this claim ? For as things stand, the opening sentence is left with two failed verifications for its mistaken claim that Darwin presented compelling evidence for common ancestry, which thus appears to be Wiki OR.

Whatever, contrary to your claim, there was no breach of WP:Forum. I would therefore be grateful if you would kindly withdraw this claim if you cannot substantiate it.

  • On 2 November you claimed "The wording of the opening sentence is currently supported by policy and consensus."

Is that true ? In response to my criticisms of it, the opening sentence has been variously significantly changed in the last year, and most recently and most significantly of all its wording was most crucially changed by Cashman on 1 November, when its claim that Darwin presented compelling evidence for natural selection, whose withdrawal I have persistently campaigned for without sucess hitherto, was withdrawn. So are you claiming that by 2 November the new wording of the opening sentence introduced on 1 November had achieved consensus within 1 day ? And what was the number of readers/editors who logged on to see it and changed their consent overnight such that the consensus about its wording changed ?

And does your claim that the new wording is supported by policy imply that the previous wording was not? Or do you claim both the previous wording and also the new wording were/are supported by policy ? --Logicus (talk) 18:48, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

New external link[edit]


Done--Old Moonraker (talk) 10:34, 9 November 2009 (UTC)