Talk:J. B. S. Haldane

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

Haldane's Dilemma[edit]

Wikipedia has an entire entry devoted to Haldane's Dilemma. I suggest we insert either a mention, with a link to, or perhaps a suggestion summarizing the dilemma. Thoughts? [Oops, forgot to sign on Aug 3, 2012] Bob Enyart, Denver radio host at KGOV (talk) 21:26, 8 November 2012 (UTC)

Indian or British?[edit]

Haldane emigrated to India in (I believe) 1956. He took Indian citizenship and described himself as being a Hindu. He lived there for 8 years, until his death. However, almost all of his career was spent in Britain (Oxford and London) and virtually all of the work that we are describing occurred there. I realize that Indians are proud of his move there and his identification with India. Nevertheless calling him a "British-born Indian geneticist and evolutionary biologist" seems off the mark. It would be like calling Joseph Priestley a British-born American chemist (his last 10 years being spent in the U.S.) or Albert Einstein a German-born American physicist (as he spent his last 21 years in the U.S.) Maybe call Haldane a "British, later Indian, geneticist and evolutionary biologist"? Felsenst (talk) 17:23, 8 February 2009 (UTC)

Residence in infobox[edit]

As of 18 July 2009, the Infobox entry for Residence shows a U.S. flag as well as British and Indian ones. Yet nothing in the text mentions any U.S. residence. I think either a time of U.S. residence should be included in the text, or the U.S. flag removed. 09:49, 18 July 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by WmMBoyce (talkcontribs)

Political views[edit]

Seeing no section to discuss his political views, I will make this section do for now. Whoever wrote the section on his dissembling on the USSR genetics mess, made it pretty clear that JBSH was intellectually dishonest when dealing with the real nature of Communism, the USSR, Stalin, etc. It seems to me that intellectual dishonesty rarely confines itself to a single subject. Why should a disinterested scholar give ANY credence to what JBSH wrote on ANY subject, rather than assuming it was all contrived or "spun" by him to support some political or social goal? WmMBoyce (talk) 09:57, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

Perhaps we cannot discount his science because almost all of Haldane's contributions were mathematical arguments, where you can see the logic step by step, and if there is dishonesty it is immediately detectable. For that reason there are hardly any known cases of scientific fraud in mathematical proofs. Errors, yes, but not fraud. Felsenst (talk) 06:17, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

Haldane was a knowed eugenist[edit]

The article "forgets" the fact that this man was an eugenist. In fact, he was among the subscribers of the Eugenics manifesto, in 1939.Agre22 (talk) 19:13, 25 October 2009 (UTC)agre22

He did sign that manifesto, and was a eugenicist at a time when there were both left-wing, center-, and right-wing eugenicists. But the article is not "whitewashing" him as you imply. For example it describes his fudging on the tyranny in the Soviet Union and praising Stalin even late in life. There have also been arguments that during World War II he agreed to spy for the Soviet Union, and I'm sure that these will work their way into the article ultimately. Felsenst (talk) 00:04, 26 October 2009 (UTC)

Such as Conrad Hal Waddington and Lancelot Hogben, J. B. S. Haldane was an eugenist. In fact, he was a famous eugenist, being among the signatores and supporters of the eugenics manifesto in 1939. Facts are facts and that's all.Agre22 (talk) 13:01, 12 January 2010 (UTC)agre22

... and the article is not "whitewashing" him. You imply that it is. You are wrong. Have you read what the Eugenics Manifesto actually advocates? Have you read Haldane's critical remarks about negative eugenics? Have you found advocacy of eugenics in his other scientific writings? Felsenst (talk) 14:07, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
Since WW II and the Nazis eugenics has gained a far worse reputation than the originators of the field intended. Originally the more 'educated' proponents thought that people with genetic 'defects' i.e., people likely to pass-on congenital birth defects to their children, should voluntarily abstain from reproduction as a moral choice for the good of both the child itself, and society, not wishing to bring into the world a child with the same disadvantages and afflictions as they themselves were forced to endure, and it was only the more extremist advocates of eugenics that thought it should be compulsory. Unfortunately it is only the latter who are usually thought of today when the term 'eugenicist' is mentioned.
it should also be pointed out that various countries had differing ideas on the implementation of the principle. The UK for example, never implemented any official form of eugenics, either at home or in the colonies. Other countries, such as IIRC some states in the US, and Sweden, did. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:50, 19 September 2015 (UTC)

Ridiculous vandalism?[edit]

I have removed the ridiculous assertion that Haldane owned a bordello. As far as I can see, it is just month-old vandalism that we all failed to notice. If anyone has a source for this and thinks it is real, let us all know here. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Felsenst (talkcontribs) 20:45, 20 November 2009 (UTC)


"His father was a scientist, a philosopher and a Liberal, and his mother was a Conservative."

Do we really want that in the article? What do we mean by Liberal and Conservative? (talk) 09:00, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

The words "Liberal" and "Conservative" are wikilinked to Liberal Party (UK) and Conservative Party (UK), respectively. So presumably, it means to say that they were supporters, voters or members of said parties. Biographical articles typically being with a brief statement on the subject's background, even if the parents aren't by themselves notable. Gabbe (talk) 11:46, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
I guess that the Liberal gene is dominant in such crosses. ;) WHPratt (talk) 13:59, 10 August 2010 (UTC)
I doubt Haldane would relish being called a Liberal. The old Liberal party was no fan of Socialism, much like the present incarnation really... - Pthag (talk) 17:07, 10 August 2010 (UTC)
Since Haldane was so politically active, pointing out that his parents supported opposing political parties seems quite relevant. Felsenst (talk) 18:43, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

Haldane's principle[edit]

I note that Haldane's principle is a redirect to this article. In the article, the principle is discussed in the section on On Being the Right Size. Would it be better to redirect to that article? Obviously, we would also ensure that the principle is discussed in that article, which it currently is not. Yaris678 (talk) 21:28, 30 January 2011 (UTC)

On another note, the article currently describes Haldane's principle as finding application in "secession theory," where it then links to the article on sEcession, as the Confederacy did from the United States. What is almost certainly intended is ecological sUccession, right? Both understandably deal with changes in the size of complex systems, but one of course seems much more relevant here. (talk) 21:02, 29 August 2013 (UTC)

Indian? If so, what was Einstein?[edit]

Groan. Here we go again. Indian Pride has struck again. Of course Indians are proud of Haldane's emigration to India and his identification with it. He was there the last 8 years of his life. Almost all of his major works were done before that. I would have called him either "British" or "English" and added "... later, Indian". But no, we are simply told that Haldane was "Indian". But I guess we have to give in, in which case we should also start referring to Albert Einstein as a famous American physicist ... Felsenst (talk) 04:58, 1 November 2011 (UTC)

Attempted fix. In general this tendency is kept at bay in more mature articles by good referencing. See for instance Rudyard Kipling. Shyamal (talk) 06:52, 1 November 2011 (UTC)
Definitely not an Indian. Many people migrate in retirement or late retirement. That does not generally justify restating their nationality. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Royalcourtier (talkcontribs) 07:32, 12 July 2014 (UTC)
Here we go again with Indian Pride. Haldane's description is now changed to "British-Indian". OK, so Albert Einstein was a a famous "German-American" physicist? Exactly what fraction of Haldane's famous papers were written while he was in India? On the other hand, it was not just a retirement move to a sunny and inexpensive country (though it was that), He also was outspoken about identifying with India in those years of his life. Felsenst (talk) 18:55, 4 May 2016 (UTC)
I am quite neutral on this issue, although I am the one who made the correction (but it was who added it). But I am more inclined towards the "British-born Indian" description. Chhandama (talk) 06:03, 5 May 2016 (UTC)

Haldane's PhD[edit]

can someone confirm that Haldane received a PhD under Hopkins at Cambridge with an appropriate reference? Encyclopedia Britannica lists an MA in 1914 but after the war he already started as a reader (second in charge of the department) in biochemistry (e.g. Crow JF Genetics 130: 1-6). I can not find a reference to his thesis. — Preceding unsigned comment added by PTN52 (talkcontribs) 10:33, 3 July 2012 (UTC)

If you look at the "Notes" section of the infobox, it says "Cambridge did not have PhD degrees until 1919. So Haldane obtained an M.A., but then directly worked under Hopkins who was the equivalent of a doctoral mentor." So Britannica is technically right but Wikipedia has chosen to elaborate further. Maybe it is worth putting an asterisk next to... Actually I think that's what this edit was supposed to be about... but the asterisk should be next to Hopkins, rather than Cambridge... and there should be another one at the start of the notes section. Yaris678 (talk) 11:46, 3 July 2012 (UTC)

Yes--I missed the note. It would certainly be useful to highlight it as Clark writes on page 32 of the online version of his book that JBS never held any scientific degree. — Preceding unsigned comment added by PTN52 (talkcontribs) 13:03, 3 July 2012 (UTC)

The note is perhaps also a little confusing as the MA was awarded in 1914 and work with Hopkins only started in 1923. — Preceding unsigned comment added by PTN52 (talkcontribs) 13:12, 3 July 2012 (UTC)

I agree that is confusing. Furthermore, I have found that it was added by a user that has since been blocked. The info has been there a while before it was challenged. There may be something in it... or maybe not. I have tweaked what it says and requested citations. If you can find any reliable sources on this subject that would be very helpful. Yaris678 (talk) 13:56, 3 July 2012 (UTC)

Move to India[edit]

This section fails to give a balanced view of his motives for leaving England. The evidence is in Clark, p229/235: "Haldane had in fact been considering emigration to India two years before the Anglo-French aggression [ie Suez]. In October 1956 he had written to a friend 'I also am to retire in two years, but I propose to retire to India,,, Climate grand, living cheap, great demand for teachers'." Macdonald-ross (talk) 19:13, 19 July 2012 (UTC)


I performed a revert of content that belongs to the talk page and not the article. I've retained a couple of typo/grammar fixes, but removed the rest. I'm not familiar enough to know the correct version for the bits of commentary, so I'm leaving it at the stable version level now. —SpacemanSpiff 14:10, 24 November 2012 (UTC)

JBS or JS?[edit]

I notice these edits add info about his work on mines... which sounds more like John Scott Haldane. The cited book is also about JS, rather than JBS. Yaris678 (talk) 16:25, 21 January 2013 (UTC)

Agree. It also says "his wife Kathleen". John Scott Haldane's wife was Louisa Kathleen Trotter (JBS's mother). JBS himself was married twice, to women whose names were Charlotte and Helen, never to anyone named Kathleen. Felsenst (talk) 06:23, 25 January 2013 (UTC)

Soviet spy[edit]

Why no reference to his activities as a soviet spy?Royalcourtier (talk) 07:31, 12 July 2014 (UTC)

Reason for move to India[edit]

If Haldane had a "strong opposition towards any form of authoritarianism", why did he support the Soviet Union and Communism? You cannot get more authoritarian than that! And how could "this political dissent" have made him leave England to became a "proud" citizen of India? Britain is the least totalitarian country on earth, and India in 1956 was not dissimilar - though if anything more totalitarian.Royalcourtier (talk) — Preceding undated comment added 07:35, 12 July 2014 (UTC)


The introductory blurb says that Haldane coined the terms "coupling" and "repulsion." He most certainly did not. Those were coined by William Bateson and explored in his experiments with RC Punnett. See and [1], p. 129. Can't figure out how to edit those intro blurbs. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Terraplane34 (talkcontribs) 14:47, 2 September 2014 (UTC)

Soviet spy?[edit]

Peter Wright in Spycatcher (1987, p. 236) accuses Haldane of passing secrets to the Communist Party of Great Britain during the Second World War. The Party, he says, forwarded those to the GRU of the Soviet Union. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:11, 4 December 2014 (UTC)

  1. ^ Lindley Darden, Theory Change in Science, 1991