Talk:On the Origin of Species/Archive 5

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Archive 4 Archive 5 Archive 6

Revert

Hello. Just a note that this book was the introduction of sexual selection and I disliked those edits being reverted. You found lots of room for a photo of Asa Gray and could find room for two sentences on Darwin's androcentrism. -SusanLesch (talk) 20:03, 19 July 2009 (UTC)


Copied from my talk page, to keep the discussions in the same place:

Hello Old Moonraker. I thank you for your addition to On the Origin of Species and have added to your sentence. Would you mind taking a look to be sure your or Dr. Fedigan's viewpoint is still represented? -SusanLesch (talk) 19:42, 19 July 2009 (UTC)

Now only an academic point, as the material has been deleted for WP:TOPIC, which I do not oppose. While it's fair for your edit to emphasise that the subject remains an issue in scientific as well as feminist (I hope I'm not misrepresenting Hubbard in this) writings, using Fedigan's statement, noting support among modern social scientists for that aspect of Darwin's writing, to introduce again the opposing point of view—"thus"—seems contrary to any logical construction of an argument. Thanks, though, for taking he trouble to explain your thoughts here. --Old Moonraker (talk) 20:16, 19 July 2009 (UTC)

--Old Moonraker (talk) 20:22, 19 July 2009 (UTC)

<edit conflict> I understand the need to feel you must include: "It has been suggested by some modern authors that his observations reflect Victorian and androcentric bias, but sexual selection remains an important part of modern evolutionary theory." However, I think the sentence is out of place where it is and the passive voice is to be avoided. Plus makes the reader go to and fro between then and now, whereas that section is not a modern analysis of Darwin's theory. Just my opinion. If you must have it, perhaps you can find better way. Regards, —Mattisse (Talk) 20:28, 19 July 2009 (UTC)

Actually what Matisse is citing is my attempt at a compromise edit after I realized that my out and out revert was a bit extreme. I have reworded it to avoid the clumsy tense issues Matisse has pointed out. I don't think more than a single sentence is appropriate here. If you want to address these issues in more depth the places to do it are in sexual selection and Descent of Man. If this compromise edit sticks, I will go back and make the citation fit the style used in this article. Rusty Cashman (talk) 20:44, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
I think you are opening the door for every modern interpretation (with citations) of Origin, and I do not think this is the place for politically correctness, since sexual selection is undisputed, however one wants to spin it. —Mattisse (Talk) 20:48, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
Taking up User:Mattisse's point: the initial "out and out revert" does seem to have been the best course of action. --Old Moonraker (talk) 20:58, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
Skimming the section of OtOOS involved in both the first and sixth edition, it's very hard to see how it could be Androcentrism, as in each case it deals with the two cases, of male animals fighting over females, and of females selecting males for their adornments. Something to deal with in the Descent of Man, but no obvious relevance to this article. So, tend to agree with Old Moonraker. There is a more general issue of modern interpretations of Darwin's work, including aspects such as racism and eugenics as well as androcentrism: Morus, Iwan Rhys; Bowler, Peter J. (2005). Making modern science: a historical survey. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 487–509. ISBN 0-226-06861-7.  has a chapter on Science and gender which mentions Darwin on pp. 503–504 in a section which concludes that some authors see his perception and that of others such as Huxley as reinforcing stereotypes and as bad science, assuming that there is an ideal science divorced from society, while others see it as an inevitable outcome of the sexist nature of science. "If we take the view that science is always the product of particular cultural circumstances, however, we might be less surprised to note the ways in which it often reflects the values of those particular cultures in which it is produced." . . . dave souza, talk 22:12, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
Everyone in those days reinforced stereotypes, as that is what was thought. I do not see that Darwin was particularly so, nor has that aspect of his work been found fundamentally flawed. The founders of the United States Constitution were sexist, not considering women for the vote, but that is not mentioned in its article. —Mattisse (Talk) 22:32, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
Mattisse, the constitution article does discuss this in the section on unratified amendments. Dave souza, I believe Darwin begins with a general statement about "individuals of one sex" and then moves on to insects. -SusanLesch (talk) 22:43, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
Sorry. I should have used my original wording that a big deal was not made of it in the article. Of course, the amendment discloses it. But the article does not go on an exegesis that the founding fathers were sexist.
I think if you can point to an issue where Darwin's sexist thinking distorted his view to the point that his theory was wrong because of the distortion, there may be a reason for mentioning it. I do not see any evidence of that, as Darwin reported what he saw. None of his observations in that article have been disproved based on his views on sex roles. —Mattisse (Talk) 22:50, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
His thinking is a part of contemporary evolutionary views—that is to say, today's views. For example those Lawrence Summers quit his job at Harvard over. If you prefer to, agree with whatever he says. I prefer to think he is wrong in the Descent of Man to write that "man has ultimately become superior to women." But I won't ever get there by arguing with you here and I have no more comments. -SusanLesch (talk) 00:01, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
Right. Like Darwin was responsible for Hitler and eugenics too, etc. Does that mean everything (the many thousand if not millions of writers) that reference him should be mentioned in this article? Should there be a "Trivia" section. He had nothing to do with the 20th or 21rst century directly. Do I get my name in the article because I published an article that refers to him? (No.) That all goes in another article, Politicalization of Darwin or some such article. What we made of Darwin today is another issue and should not clutter up his articles. —Mattisse (Talk) 00:14, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
This vaguely reminds me of Joan Roughgarden's views. I believe this sort of thing qualifies as WP:Fringe, and should not be in the article. CABlankenship (talk) 00:28, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

Mattisse's edit summary was out of line, "Yeah, he was responsible for Hitler and eugenics too", and is an example of Godwin's law. -SusanLesch (talk) 00:48, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

No, no Goodwin's law involves cases where someone or something is compared to Nazis or to Hitler, the point of Matisse's Hitler/Eugenics line is to compare your argument with arguments that are commonly made by creationists. That is not very nice of her :) but not the same thing as comparing you to a Nazi. Feminist and other post modern criticisms of Darwin and evolutionary theory have been around a while, but they are not mainstream. I believe Bowler (2003), and Bowler and Morus (2005) address them and I suspect other sources do as well. It is late tonight, but tomorrow I will do some research. The key issue is whether mainstream science historians are treating these kinds of claims as respectable minority view points, in which case a brief mention is appropriate, or whether they are being dismissed as fringe ideas in which case CABlankenship is correct and they should be excluded from this article. Rusty Cashman (talk) 07:30, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
See Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (see our article: I'm not advising anyone to see the film). There's no consensus here for adding material more relevant to Descent, so I've removed the current statement and the additional source countering it. This article already went through severe pruning to get it down to size in the FA process, and it's not appropriate to add fringe topics. There's probably a good case for an article on Charles Darwin's social attitudes to accommodate these various issues, which can then be linked summary style from the main biography and the Descent article summary style. . dave souza, talk 07:50, 20 July 2009 (UTC) For those interested, Wikipedia:Mediation Cabal/Cases/2009-07-07/Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is also relevant: see this comment in particular. . . dave souza, talk 07:57, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
When five users, or more waiting in the wings, argue against this I agree with Mr. souza's revert. But not because this article is a perfectly pruned FA. It's terribly sad to see women's equality labelled a fringe idea. At least Wikipedia makes room for them in WP:FRINGE. Mr. Cashman if you find the time I will be interested to repeat the results of your research but based on my experience in the talk page ghetto surrounding this topic no book will be deemed good enough. -SusanLesch (talk) 18:55, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
Susan, I appreciate that these other issues may seem trivial to you, but we don't mention racism and slavery in this article either. There's actually considerable justification for these in the latest book by two major Darwin biographers, but we had a struggle to keep this article concise and the issues are covered in The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex. That article desperately needs well sourced expansion, particularly in relation to sexual selection which seems to be the point at issue. With the Bowler and Morus (2005) reference I've cited above and the references that have now been deleted from this article, I think we can cover the main views on the issue of women's equality. It would also be worth mentioning the fact that Darwin's daughter Henrietta proofread that book and her proposals were incorporated, as discussed by Browne (2002) pp. 347–9 with the amusing detail of her proofreading sexual selection in the mornings while on holiday in "wicked Monaco", then strolling along the promenade or perhaps going to the casinos in the afternoon. Rather far from the repressed image of Victorian womanhood. . . dave souza, talk 19:37, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
Browne p. 76 says that female relatives were usually the primary editors for Victorian (presumably male) authors, so Henrietta's work is not surprising! -SusanLesch (talk) 22:13, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

I think Dave and Matisse are correct because of the issue of scope. Bowler and Morus (2005) do explicitly mention this issue on page 503 (in their chapter on science and gender), but it is a brief allusion (a couple of sentences) in a longer discussion of how scientific ideas have been used to justify traditional gender roles. As far as I can tell none of the mainstream accounts of the history of the theory of evolution mention it (including the one in another chapeter of Bowler and Morus). I note that it is mentioned briefly in sexual selection. Matisse is correct that if you bring this in you open the door for a whole bunch more stuff like postmodern criticisms of evolutionary theory that are really out of the scope of this article. If you want to persue the specific issue of Darwin's views, you might have a better case for a brief mention in Descent of Man since half of that book is devoted to sexual selection rather than just the couple of paragraphs devoted to it in Origin. I don't think you would have much luck getting it mentione in Charles Darwin given how crowded that article is, but given this discussion and another a few weeks ago about Darwin's racial views I begin to suspect that there might be room for a separate article on Darwin's views about race and gender along the same line as the article on his religious views. I shudder to think about the effort it would take to keep such an article on point and NPOV given the large number of axes people with various different points of view would have to grind, but it might be worth it given the amount of discussion on these topics, and I suspect there would be plenty of source material. The trick would be in giving appropriate weight to the different sources to keep the article in balance.Rusty Cashman (talk) 19:39, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

Darwin was addressing biological selection. As far as I know, he did not address the politics of sexism in society. One can argue that nature is sexist, for that matter. Darwin, if anything, was part of the Enlightenment that opened up Western thought, allowing the various social revolutions we have today. Darwin's observations of plant and animal behavior have so far been found to be accurate. —Mattisse (Talk) 20:12, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
I'm not at all suggesting that women's equality is a fringe idea. I'm saying that it's a fringe idea to imply that Darwin's work is androcentrist. Any remotely intellectually honest reading of my statement would make this clear. Professor Roughgarden has been harshly critical of Sexual Selection from a feminist perspective, but her views have been overwhelmingly rejected. CABlankenship (talk) 20:14, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
I strongly agree with Mattise and Moonraker--the place for this discussion is in Descent of Man. it's a legitimate topic there, along with the other background prejudices from his period that might be relevant there. It's a topic worth discussion, and , as we all agree, it has been discussed in the literature. I do not consider it fringe. Some of the argument of DoM reflects to some degree that of the anthropology of his period. Now , expanding on what was mentioned above, I too see sexual selection as relevant to androcentric bias in quite the opposite sense: I see it as a revolutionary statement of the positive role of women in sexual choice and consequently in animal and human society. DGG (talk) 21:56, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
DGG, do you have a source? I have Ruth Hubbard's The Politics of Women's Biology and Nancy Tuana's The Less Noble Sex along with Janet Browne's books but maybe altogether too critical. Your idea would be wonderful! I am traveling this week and will check back when I arrive. -SusanLesch (talk) 02:34, 21 July 2009 (UTC)
no, actually, I was reporting it as my personal reaction to reading the book--which I have long recommended to students as the first of Darwin's books to read, rather than Origin of Species. I would suspect that others have thought the same previously. But the overall question is whether there been a positive feminist understanding of the concept of sexual selection? I have in my mind two background relationships, -the connection of Darwin to JS Mill who were very much aware of each other, --see [1] --and the relationship of feminism and primatology--from which many of Darwin's examples came. I'll do a little looking around. DGG (talk) 04:09, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
I don't know about "positive", but for a less negative feminist view of sexual selection, take a look at Griet Vandermassen's "Sexual Selection: A Tale of Male Bias and Feminist Denial". European Journal of Women's Studies, Vol.11 (1), pp.9-26. [2]. --Dannyno (talk) 20:31, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for that! http://ejw.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/14/4/341 is interesting but seems to have little to do with Darwin directly. —Mattisse (Talk) 20:52, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
Jiminy Cricket! Wow, thanks to Dannyo. And thank you Mattisse for the follow up. Striking that Vandermassen can quote Antoinette Blackwell and cite Eliza Gamble but Hubbard couldn't. (Dave souza, elsewhere you asked who worried that Darwin was male-centric while he was alive; Hubbard said Blackwell and Gamble did.) -SusanLesch (talk) 03:54, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
I've just skimmed through Vandermassen' s "Sexual Selection: A Tale of Male Bias and Feminist Denial" and wish I had more time to pursue the subject. Vandermassen cites Descent of Man several times but does not cite Origin of Species, so her article is more relevant to Descent of Man than to Origin of Species.
Next question: how important is Descent of Man or Darwin's work generally in feminist analyses of scientific theories? If not important, that aspect probably fails to make the cut in WP articles about Darwin and his works, as there's plenty to write about in terms of the history of scientific thought as science.
Further question: How does the place of Darwin's work in feminist analyses of science compare with its place in other controversies, such as the one over Creationism in the USA? My impression is that Darwin figures much more prominently in the Creationism debate - I haven't researched either topic, but it's hard to miss the Creationism debate and Darwin's place in it wherever you look, while the discussion on this page is the first time I've comments about possible androcentrism in Darwin's work.
Suggested way forward: Perhaps the ideas SusanLesch describes should be developed fully in feminism-related articles. Then, if these provide good evidence that unconscious androcentrism on Darwin's part caused flaws in his theories or that Darwin's work is central to feminist analyses of science, add "see alsos" and/or "related articles" to Descent of Man and any other articles on works by Darwin in which the relations between the sexes are a major element. --Philcha (talk) 06:17, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
Philcha, hello. I chose this book to start because it introduces sexual selection in primarily male terms. We've moved along though to Descent of Man. (No thanks. I don't want to develop feminism articles on this point.) -SusanLesch (talk) 18:04, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
SusanLesch, your "because it (Origin) introduces sexual selection in primarily male terms" shows a profound lack of understanding. Note D's comment later at [the section of Origin on sexual selection: "I can see no good reason to doubt that female birds, by selecting, during thousands of generations, the most melodious or beautiful males, according to their standard of beauty, might produce a marked effect" - female choice determines the reproductive success of males, and "according to their standard of beauty" acknowledges that females have quite a degree of freedom in making such decisions (until consensus forms, then any female that does not follow the consensus will have lower reproductive success). The reason for this is simple and well-known: because eggs are more expensive to produce than sperm and therefore in shorter supply, it is largely males who compete for the attentions of females - as D. points out in the passage ending, "The war is, perhaps, severest between the males of polygamous animals."
This is nothing to do with gender politics, it's fact and logic. If a controversial scientific issue is swept under the carpet or only one side gets published, there's scope for politically oriented analyses - but if the science is solid, there's no scope for political analyses. --Philcha (talk) 18:58, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
My "profound lack of understanding" results from reading Hubbard and Tuana. Prof. Hubbard was a Harvard University biology professor. That's why DGG's offer of a more positive source was so wonderful. Then Dannyo came up with a good one (and it and its reply are both free online). I have no intention of reopening an argument with you here and have no more comments. -SusanLesch (talk) 19:12, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
Bowler and Morus, The Making of Modern Science (2005), make it clear that this is a part of the feminist critique of science (they have a whole chapter on Science and Gender) and that they do trace the issue back to what they consider Darwin's Victorian mindset. I think Descent of Man is an appropriate place to discuss it as half the book is concerned with sexual selection. Rusty Cashman (talk) 23:17, 28 July 2009 (UTC)
I wish those that are pushing an agenda would please read the On the Origin of Species before making comments and reference the work when making those comments, and not someone's recent opinions on Darwin in general. Comments on Darwin in general are not pertinent to this article. —Mattisse (Talk) 23:58, 28 July 2009 (UTC)

Result

Hi. This is very early to review but I think what is there now in this section of Descent of Man includes everybody mentioned here so far. I hope so and invite your edits. -SusanLesch (talk) 05:03, 26 July 2009 (UTC)

Lucky, our public library had Making Modern Science by Bowler and Morus (it's a USD$70 book) so I could cite it in Descent of Man. Interestingly though, on page 503, the authors say that it is Darwin's evolutionary theory of natural selection that was used to keep women in their place. They discuss sexual selection there but didn't actually say it was used. So while I am very happy to see this section developed in Descent of Man there might be wider applicability someday in Mr. Darwin's article or here. -SusanLesch (talk) 18:04, 1 August 2009 (UTC)
You might need to distinguish between what D wrote, what the evidence suggests he thought, and how his writings were (mis-)used by power elites to support their hegemony (with is what elites do). The obvious example of this sort of thing is the Bible, whihc has been used to justify all sorts of unpleasantness. --Philcha (talk) 08:58, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

Publication date of the Origin of Species

There seems to be a disconnect between this article and Publication of Darwin's theory. While this article states the date as 24 November, Publication of Darwin's theory says it went to sale on 22nd November? Can we change both to the correct date? 22/24? prashanthns (talk) 19:14, 15 August 2009 (UTC)

Both stated that "When the book went on sale to the trade on 22 November 1859 the stock of 1,250 copies was oversubscribed." That was Murray's sale, two days before the publication date. To help, I've duplicated the relevant wording from this article in the "Publication" article. See also Freeman, Richard B. (1977), "On the Origin of Species", The Works of Charles Darwin: An Annotated Bibliographical Handlist (2nd ed.), Folkestone, England: Dawson, ISBN 0712907408  . . . dave souza, talk 19:56, 15 August 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for a detailed reply! Perhaps should have checked it myself. :) prashanthns (talk) 07:18, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

Lamarck and common descent

The article cites Bowler (2003) pp. 84–90 for the statement "Lamarck thought there was an inherent progressive tendency driving organisms continuously towards greater complexity, in parallel but separate lineages with no extinction."

With this edit James A. Donald, stating in the edit summary The idea of a tree of life, that all or most kinds are decended from a common ancestor, long preceded Darwin, and has little to do with Darwinism, changed the part after the comma to "with life forms diverging from a common ancestor" giving as a ref “a branching series, irregularly graduated which has no discontinuity in its parts, or which, at least, if its true that there are some because of lost species, has not alway had such. It follows that the species that terminate each branch of the general series are related, at least on one side, to the other neighboring species that shade into them” No sign where that came from, and it contracicts the various historians who describe the Lamarckian era as reviving the chain of life idea with modifications, and Darwin as originating the idea of a genealogical tree uniting all or most species. We could go into more detail about Lamarck's ideas, but original the statement above still stands so I've restored the original statement and reference to Bowler. . dave souza, talk 08:13, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

It is a direct quote from a translation of Lamarck, which source I gave, and you instantly deleted.
Outlines of evolutionary biology", by Arthur Dendy and Maurice Burton on page 387 quotes Lamarck stating that species form “a branching series, irregularly graduated which has no discontinuity in its parts, or which, at least, if its true that there are some because of lost species, has not alway had such. It follows that the species that terminate each branch of the general series are related, at least on one side, to the other neighboring species that shade into them” James A. Donald (talk) 18:55, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
and it contradicts the various historians who describe the Lamarckian era as reviving the chain of life idea with modifications, and Darwin as originating the idea of a genealogical tree uniting all or most species.
Bowler, the historian you cite, says that Lamarck "may not even have forseen the modern concept of divergence from a common ancestor". Note that weasel word "may". You cite Bowler as asserting that Lamarck definitely did not foresee that, though Bowler's actual position is much weaker.
Further, Bowler is full of crap, for here is an image of page 463 of Lamark’s Philosophie zoologique, a table titled “Origins of the Various Animals” http://blog.jim.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Lamarcks_Tree.gif depicting the tree of life,. This table is used on page 458 in a discussion of common descent [additional —Preceding unsigned comment added by James A. Donald (talkcontribs) 06:33, 21 August 2009]
So Bowler takes no definite position on the issue in dispute. Lamarck definitely alleges that all living things are related as quoted above.
and Lamark definitely alleges that species diverge into several species "Lamarck, the Founder of Evolution" by By Alpheus Spring Packard page 240 quotes Lamarck stating that "as new modifications will necessarily continue to operate, however slowly, not only will there continually be found new species, new genera, and new orders, but each species will vary in some part of its structure and form ... individuals which from special causes are transported into very different situations from those where the others occur, and then constantly submitted to other influences - the former, I say, assume new forms, and then they constitute a new species"
Darwin's big new idea was natural selection, not common descent. People who don't like that fact, don't like natural selection.
The fact that the actual words of Lamarck, given with written sources, get instantly deleted shows fanatical and passionate determination to falsify history. James A. Donald (talk) 18:55, 19 August 2009 (UTC)]

We have elsewhere correctly summarised the main themes of Lamarck as 1. The complexifying force, which tends to move animals up the ladder of progress, and 2. The adaptive force, which causes adaptation. This latter is the real key to Lamarck, because his naturalistic (and mistaken) mechanism for adaptation differentiates him from the natural theologians. Misunderstanding of Lamarck is common because he was such a long-winded and obscure writer, and poses problems whether in French or English. Our original account in this article was quite sound, and quite enough. Macdonald-ross (talk) 09:06, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

The proposition that Darwin originated the idea of the tree of life stands in direct and straightforward opposition to the actual words of Darwin in Chapter 11 of the origin, where he first uses the term "tree" in this sense in reference to depictions of species branching over geological time by unnamed others.James A. Donald (talk) 18:55, 19 August 2009 (UTC)]

I am not following you here. Here is the first reference to a tree of common descent on page 293 in chapter 11 of the 6th edition, which I believe is what you are refering to. The passage is virtually unchanged from what appeared in chapter X of the first edition. Here is the passage:

This gradual increase in number of the species of a group is strictly conformable with the theory, for the species of the same genus, and the genera of the same family, can increase only slowly and progressively; the process of modification and the production of a number of allied forms necessarily being a slow and gradual process,—one species first giving rise to two or three varieties, these being slowly converted into species, which in their turn produce by equally slow steps other varieties and species, and so on, like the branching of a great tree from a single stem, till the group becomes large.

There is nothing in this passage or any of the surrounding text that would suggest to me that Darwin thought someone else had originated the tree simile. If I have the wrong passage, please provide a more specific citation with either the quotation you are refering to or at least a specific page number. Thank you. Rusty Cashman (talk) 01:42, 20 August 2009 (UTC)


"There is nothing in this passage or any of the surrounding text that would suggest to me that Darwin thought someone else had originated the tree simile."
Other than the fact that he is referring to a drawing of a species branching that he expects his readers to have seen:
"If the number of the species included within a genus, or the number of the genera within a family, be represented by a vertical line of varying thickness, ascending through the successive geological formations, in which the species are found, the line will sometimes falsely appear to begin at its lower end, not in a sharp point, but abruptly; it then gradually thickens upwards, often keeping of equal thickness for a space, and ultimately thins out in the upper beds, marking the decrease and final extinction of the species."
Which implies the reader is expected to be familiar with such drawings, lots of such drawings.
Which implies existing drawings of trees, such as, for example, Lamarck's depiction of a tree
Further, we have seen lots tree depictions that long precede Darwin, for example http://blog.jim.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Lamarcks_Tree.gif, and indeed long precede Lamarck. Animals look like they are related, so natural to propose common descent and the tree of life. Lamarck is merely the second best known and second most famous of those who proposed this common and ancient idea, and drew a version of this much drawn image. So many preceded Darwin that no one can say who was the first. Darwin's big idea was natural selection, survival of the fittest, and all the disturbing things that follow from it, such as genocide and sociobiology. Common descent and the tree of life is an ancient idea.—Preceding unsigned comment added by James A. Donald (talkcontribs) 06:47, 21 August 2009
Editor's comments and signatures restored, thread reinstated. James A. Donald, please take care in future to maintain the thread, and don't insert your own comments into statements by others or delete what they've written. Also, please sign your own posts. dave souza, talk 07:52, 21 August 2009 (UTC)

Lamarck's diagram and references to branching are discussed in Bowler, pp. 89–91. Contrary to James A. Donald's original research, this was a secondary adaptive force distorting the linear pattern of Lamarck's progressive trend from multiple origins. Bowler's caption to an illustration based on the same diagram states that Lamarck "would not have seen this as a tree of genealogical relationships, but as a more realistic representation of the chain produced as in fig. 9", which shows muliple origins with the current appearance of species relating to how long they've been progressing. From Larson, p. 41, "The current array of forms were neither fixed nor had common ancestry, Lamarck maintained, but were merely a snapshot of development over time from a multitude of beginnings, with more specialised organisms representing older lineages than less specialised ones." It's a difficult concept to grasp now that common descent seems so obvious, but the ancient tree of life had a range of symbolic meanings, and it took Darwin to make it a genealogical ancestral tree. . dave souza, talk 09:05, 21 August 2009 (UTC)

The tree of life

The article keeps ascribing the tree of life to Darwin, though this idea - that similar kinds are similar because they are descended from a common ancestor, is so ancient that it is impossible to ascertain who was the first, if indeed there was a first.

Lamark's depiction of the origins of the various animals in "Zoological Philosophy"

Darwin's big new idea, as he makes perfectly clear, is natural selection, survival of the fittest.

Lamarck proposed that species diverge into many species, as a result of some members of a species encountering a different environment to that of others of their species[1], and intermediate forms becoming extinct[2], and we can find close precursors of this idea all the way back to Ancient Greece.

Darwinism is survival of the fittest, which doctrine people do not like, because of Darwin's rather cheerful and upbeat discussion of genocide, sociobiology, extinction, sex roles, and lots of similarly disturbing truths. James A. Donald (talk) 08:26, 21 August 2009 (UTC)

Darwinism meant multiple things at various times. You still seem to be missing the crucial point of multiple origins, as stated by the above modern historians. Alpheus Spring Packard appears to have died in 1905. The 4th edition of "Outlines of evolutionary biology", by Arthur Dendy and Maurice Burton appears to have been published in 1938. Perhaps your investigations could usefully contribute to the articles on Lamarck and his ideas. . . dave souza, talk 09:21, 21 August 2009 (UTC)

Just to make it clear. Lamarck's views are fudnamentally at odds with the concept of a singally rooted tree or even a few roots. As Edward Larson summarizes in Evolution: The Remarkable Historyh of a Scientific Theory (2004) p. 40:

On page 41 Larson concludes:

This did not preclude some branching along the way but that would be incidental. Rusty Cashman (talk) 20:19, 21 August 2009 (UTC)

Firstly, when you stop quoting Larson, and start supposedly paraphrasing him you are not paraphrasing him but denying and contradicting what Larson plainly said.
Secondly Lamarck draws a picture in which branching is massive and fundamental as you can plainly see - look at the diagram Lamarck drew! James A. Donald (talk) 11:24, 30 August 2009 (UTC)
The last sentence in my previous comment was not an attempt to paraphrase Larson but my own comment. I am sorry if there was any confusion on that point. Next when it comes to the diagram you have provided when I look at it closely I do not see that "branching is massive and fundamental" what I see is a long snaking line from the worms to mammals with off shoots for other animals. Admittedly that is just my impression, which clearly differs from yours, but that is why Wikipedia policy favors interpretations published in secondary sources over inferences drawn from primary sources. Inferences from primary sources are permissable in some situations, when there is no suitable secondary source and/or when the interpetation of the primary source is obvious and uncontroversial, but it is pretty clear that neither of those conditions apply here. Rusty Cashman (talk) 19:06, 30 August 2009 (UTC)

Notes

  1. ^ "Lamarck, the Founder of Evolution" by By Alpheus Spring Packard page 240 quotes Lamarck stating that "as new modifications will necessarily continue to operate, however slowly, not only will there continually be found new species, new genera, and new orders, but each species will vary in some part of its structure and form ... individuals which from special causes are transported into very different situations from those where the others occur, and then constantly submitted to other influences - the former, I say, assume new forms, and then they constitute a new species"
  2. ^ "Outlines of evolutionary biology", by Arthur Dendy and Maurice Burton on page 387 quotes Lamarck stating that species form “a branching series, irregularly graduated which has no discontinuity in its parts, or which, at least, if its true that there are some because of lost species, has not alway had such. It follows that the species that terminate each branch of the general series are related, at least on one side, to the other neighboring species that shade into them”

Why lie about Lamarck.

Why do you lot keep reinserting the lie that Lamarck proposed parallel descent without branching, when Lamarck says "branching series", and draws them branching.

Why assert that Lamarck denied extinction, when he invoked extinction?

Let us have a debate on this, instead of just deleting simple facts supported by direct quotes from Lamarck, and replacing Lamarck's own words with what purports to be a paraphrase and summary of what some historian supposedly said about Lamarck - though when I read that historian, it does not appear to be an accurate summary of what that historian said about Lamarck.

Whatever Lamarck said about evolution, it was certainly not "without branching"

The proposition that Lamarck denied branching and extinction is just flatly contrary to Lamarck's own words - it is a wholly invented fact, invented to in order define Darwinism as something other than natural selection and survival of the fittest, invented so that those who find survival of the fittest disturbingly politically incorrect can pretend that they are Darwinists.

Darwinism means natural selection, survival of the fittest, gradual continuous ill defined speciation through natural selection rather than abrupt well defined speciation, and competition that takes place between individuals, subspecies, and species, competition that is both individual and group. That is what it has always meant. That is Darwin's focus, and that is what makes Darwin new and different from his predecessors such as Lamarck. If you reject that lot, or discount it as something insignificant that only happened under special circumstances long, long ago, and far far away, then you are not a Darwinist. —Preceding unsigned comment added by James A. Donald (talkcontribs) 11:03, 28 August 2009 (UTC)

<original comment before James A. Donald interspersed his responses>:Please stop accusing people of lying: repeat it and you're liable to be blocked. Also, please sign your posts. Your arguments lack verification, and per WP:TALK you should present reliable sources for your proposed changes. Note also that WP:NOR, in particular WP:PSTS, means you don't just argue your own interpretation of primary sources. The comments on this post are of interest: John S. Wilkins writes "Lamarck himself did not hold to common descent. The first person to publish that view of whom I know (there are probably others) is Heinrich Bronn, in 1858. He beat Darwin and Wallace by a matter of months, and we know Darwin had common descent before he had natural selection, around 1837 or so. I think Darwin is original in that regards." He comments that Erasmus Darwin hinted at common ancestry, concluding "So the notion that some living things share a common cause is not novel. But Lamarck did not hold to it." Wilkins subsequently self-corrects, "Franz Unger had a theory of common descent in 1852". Not a reliable source as it's in the comments rather than the post itself, but Wilkins is a published author on the history of evolutionary ideas. . dave souza, talk 11:25, 28 August 2009 (UTC)


Please stop accusing people of lying: repeat it and you're liable to be blocked. Also, please sign your posts. Your arguments lack verification,
My argument consists of direct quotes from Lamarck, and diagram of the tree of life drawn by Lamarck. James A. Donald (talk) 11:57, 30 August 2009 (UTC)


and per WP:TALK you should present reliable sources for your proposed changes.
My proposed changes are primarily direct quotes from the early writers on evolution. You guys say they did not say "branching", I quote them saying "branching"
Here is Erasmus Darwin proposing common descent: "millions of ages before the commencement of the history of mankind, that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament, which the first great Cause imbued with animality, with the power of acquiring new parts, attended with new propensities, directed by irritations, sensations, volitions, and associations, and thus possessing the faculty of continuing to improve by its own inherent activity, and of delivering down those improvements by generation to posterity, world without end ? "
If that is not common descent, what is it?James A. Donald (talk) 11:57, 30 August 2009 (UTC)
Note also that WP:NOR, in particular WP:PSTS, means you don't just argue your own interpretation of primary sources.
I am not interpreting, but quoting. It is you guys who propose interpretations, interpretations that directly and flatly contradict the words of the people you purportedly cite.James A. Donald (talk) 11:57, 30 August 2009 (UTC)
The comments on this post are of interest: John S. Wilkins writes "Lamarck himself did not hold to common descent. The first person to publish that view of whom I know (there are probably others) is Heinrich Bronn, in 1858. He beat Darwin and Wallace by a matter of months, and we know Darwin had common descent before he had natural selection, around 1837 or so. I think Darwin is original in that regards." He comments that Erasmus Darwin hinted at common ancestry,
"Hinted" my ass: Erasmus Darwin tells us: "all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament". Kind of strong for a hint.James A. Donald (talk) 11:57, 30 August 2009 (UTC)
concluding "So the notion that some living things share a common cause is not novel. But Lamarck did not hold to it."
But Lamarck draws a diagram showing that most living things shared a common cause - see above image of a page from his book. The positions of Darwin, Lamarck, and Erasmus Darwin on common descent are very similarJames A. Donald (talk) 11:57, 30 August 2009 (UTC)
Wilkins subsequently self-corrects, "Franz Unger had a theory of common descent in 1852". Not a reliable source as it's in the comments rather than the post itself, but Wilkins is a published author on the history of evolutionary ideas. . dave souza, talk 11:25, 28 August 2009 (UTC)
If I understand it correctly, this is about the interpretation of L's words.
If the debate is about the interpretation of Lamarck's words, why do you guys keep deleting the words themselves. Why can a direct image from a book written by Lamarck not remain in the relevant section for thirty seconds? The debate is about flatly denying that Lamarck said what he said.
If the debate was about interpretation, why is it that a direct image of a page from a book by Lamarck gets instantly deleted?
You might delete my words as interpretation, but when you delete Lamarck's words, it is because they mean what they mean and say what they say.James A. Donald (talk) 11:57, 30 August 2009 (UTC)

The only way to resolve this is by checking sources - probalby secondary, as one secondary considers that L was not explicit as we, with the benefit of hindsight, have come to expect. A few sources I've find may help:

  • Burkhardt, R.W. "Lamarck in 1995". The spirit of system: Lamarck and evolutionary biology. pp. xxi–xxii. Retrieved 2009-08-28.  - seems to be agnostic on "parallel descent without branching". Burkhardt thinks "... Lamarck's theory, unlike Darwin's, should not be seen as a theory of common descent". Burkhardt thinks Bowler goes too far in regarding L's theory as one of parallel evolutionary sequences, in Burkardt's words "... forces Lamarck to a position he never embraced on a question he never addressed.
  • Mayr, E. (March, 1972). "Lamarck revisited". Journal of the History of Biology. 5 (1): 55–94. doi:10.1007/BF02113486.  Check date values in: |date= (help) says L thought each lineage progressed to increasingly complex forms, leaving gaps in the "ground floor" which were filled by spontaneous generation of newe and distinct lineages.
  • Ruse, M. (2001). "Monad to Man". The evolution wars: a guide to the debates. Rutgers University Press. pp. 16–21, esp 19. ISBN 0813530369. Retrieved 2009-08-28.  - "Lamarck's evolution was not essentially treelike". --Philcha (talk) 13:31, 28 August 2009 (UTC)

Incorrect and confusing dates in sections describing preparation of the book

I've just changed a date in the 'Time taken to publish' section from 1938 to 1958, assuming it was a typo. There's still something wrong though, it says: "By December 1858, Darwin had his basic theory of natural selection "by which to work", yet when Wallace's letter arrived on 18 June 1858 Darwin was still not ready to publish his theory".

"still wasn't ready" implies the letter arrived after he finished the "basic theory", but the dates say it happened before? Codemonkey87 (talk) 04:08, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

Clearly I meant 1838 and 1858.Codemonkey87 (talk) 04:08, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
It wasn't a typo. He had it all figured out, but waited to publish until he was about to be "scooped". Yeah hesitating for 20 years seems rather odd now from our perspective. Vsmith (talk) 04:15, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
See the inception section "By December 1838..... Darwin now had the framework of his theory of natural selection "by which to work",[26] but he was fully occupied with his career as a geologist and held off writing a sketch of his theory...." and the subsequent development section. He had the basic concept, but he didn't have it all figured out, and knew that a high level of evidence and detailed argument would be needed to convince his friends who were committed to the fixity of species. He had other priorities until 1854, but kept on working on researching and thinking about his "hobby". Even after 1854 his thinking changed and developed. "By 1856, his theory was much more sophisticated, with a mass of supporting evidence." . . dave souza, talk 04:36, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

From the Greeks to Darwin

Henry Fairfield Osborn 1898 book: From the Greeks to Darwin. http://www.archive.org/stream/fromgreekstodarw00osborich/fromgreekstodarw00osborich_djvu.txt THE SELECTIONISTS:

p.117 ".... It is rather a form of the Survival of the Fittest theory applied, not to entire organisms, but to the particles of which it is composed. Blind and ceaseless trials, such as those imagined by Em- pedocles, Democritus, and Lucretius, are made by these particles, impelled by their rude sensibility. As a sequel of many failures, finally a favourable combination is formed, which persists until a recom- bination is rendered necessary.......Morley (not knowing of Empedocles' hypothesis) speaks of as an anticipation of a famous modern theory, referring of course to * Natural Selection.' This is especially valuable because it affords another conclusive proof that the idea of the ' Survival of the Fittest ' must actually be traced back to Empedocles, six centuries before Christ. It is contained in an imaginary dialogue upon the teleological view of Nature between ' Saunderson ' and the ' Professor ' : " ... all the faulty combinations of matter disappeared, and that those individuals only survived whose mechanism implied no important misadaptation (contradiction), and who had the power of supporting and per- petuating themselves....." —Preceding unsigned comment added by 41.115.9.120 (talk) 20:59, 13 November 2009 (UTC)

"....The modern theory of Natural Selection was ex- pressed first by DR. W. C. WELLS, in 1813, then by St. Hilaire the elder, then by Matthew, in 1831, and finally, with considerably less clearness, if at all, by Naudin, in 1852. Darwin gives us references to the two English writers. That of Wells is the first statement of the theory of the survival, not simply of fittest organisms, as understood by previous writers, such as Buffon and Treviranus, but of or- ganisms surviving because of their possession of favourable variations in single characters. Wells' paper, read before the Royal Society in 1813, was entitled, " An Account of a White Female, part of whose Skin resembles that of a Negro " ; it was not published until iSiS. 1 He here recognizes the prin- ciple of Natural Selection, as applied to the races of men, and to the explanation of the origin of sin- gle characters...." —Preceding unsigned comment added by 41.115.9.120 (talk) 20:38, 13 November 2009 (UTC)

Surviving Copies/Manuscripts

Seeing as it was such a major book in impact, and the first edition had a print run of just over one thousand, shouldn't this article have a section regarding surviving copies, like which museums/libraries have them on archive? For example I lead you to http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/11/23/2750469.htm where someone found a first edition copy in a garage sale and stored it in their toilet. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 192.193.164.8 (talk) 04:24, 24 November 2009 (UTC)

Clarification: it was stored, like much other lavatory reading material in many homes, on a bookcase, not in the actual toilet bowl.
If you have a source that discusses surviving 1st editions, other than one article describing one example, feel free to add it in. ~Amatulić (talk) 06:14, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
Libraries of older universities in English-speaking countries almost all have copies, as (I expect) do many in Germany and Holland. Especially worthy of note are:
University of Toronto Library
Library of the American Philosophical Society
These two libraries made special efforts to collect all first editions of Darwin and other significant authors on evolution. Naturally, all such material is kept secure, that is, not on open shelves. There may be several hundred copies still in private hands. One was offered (but not sold) for £80,000 at this summer's ABA (Antiquarian Booksellers Association) June Fair in London. It seemed a high price for a copy in only fair condition. The price of Darwin firsts have been inflated by creationism in the USA... Macdonald-ross (talk) 09:28, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
This may not be the right place to put the following information, but it may be helpful to readers for identifying a first printing of the first edition. The only difference is a misprint. The word "speceies" appears once, instead of "species" on page 20, line 11. This extra "e" multiplies the value of the volume some twenty-fold... FCR 15:45, 27 March 2013 (GMT) — Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.220.83.136 (talk)
That's mentioned, along with other clues, in Freeman which we cite: he notes as a simpler test it having two quotations only, from Whewell and Bacon, on the verso of the half-title leaf (p. [ii]). . dave souza, talk 16:48, 27 March 2013 (UTC)

Marr's documentary

An edit changed "merely" to "coyly" for the mention of the implications of human evolution, citing Andrew Marr (2009). "Body and Soul". Darwin's Dangerous Idea, part one. BBC Two. The programme was rather mixed, with dubious assertions, and dramatic rather than scholarly: I have it on video and can re-watch it, but don't think it's really an ideal reference. Also, a "Bibliography" subsection was introduced for the book or other references: think this goes against the MOS which uses the term for further reading. . dave souza, talk 10:02, 24 November 2009 (UTC)

Well that's a disappointing take. I quite liked the documentary. It was much better than "Darwin's Brave New World", another three-part programme, which was overtly dramatic. Anyway, I see you didn't indicate any proper reasons for changing "coyly" back to "merely" in your edit summary here. I have partially reverted you, will look for a more scholarly reference tomorrow. Ottre 09:04, 28 November 2009 (UTC)
I at first reverted your edit because I thought coyly sounded too sly. However, after I did some more research I found, much to my surprise, that two perfectly reliable sources (James Costa in his Annotated Origin (2009) p. 488, and Quammen (2006)) p. 196 used the word "coy" to describe Darwin's brief allusion to human evolution. Quammen even called it that "famously coy remark". So I restored "coyly", however, I tweaked it to "had coyly only hinted" to work well with the "but" in the sentence. Maybe someday I will learn to research first and undo later.Rusty Cashman (talk) 14:38, 28 November 2009 (UTC)
Unfortunately, "coyly" suggests Darwin fluttering his eyelashes, and unlike Costa it's put rather out of context. Must retrieve my copy of Quammen, but I'm happier with "coy" than "coyly" so have summarised the context given by Browne as "Darwin deliberately avoided the subject, but in the final chapter dutifully included one coy hint that 'Light will be thrown on the origin of man'." She emphasises that "With profound deliberance.... He avoided talking about human origins" "The only words he allowed himself – and these out of a sense of duty that he must somewhere refer to human beings". In her Darwin's Origin of Species she makes a similar point on pages 76–77. Bowler in Charles Darwin: The Man and His Influence p. 124 is more explicit that "This is not the only reference to changes within the human race in the Origin of Species, but it is the one absolutely unequivocal statement of Darwin's belief that his theory will account for the origins of mankind from a lower form." though it would threaten the tradtional view. "He hoped to minimize the resulting outcry by refusing to discuss human origins in detail but felt that he had to include at least this brief indication of his beliefs." The term "coyly" doesn't spring to mind in that context. By the way, my original edit summary was "hanks, by "coyly" has overtones where "diplomatically" is equally appropriate, documentaries tend to exaggerate", "by" being a typo for "but". The diff above is the summary for removing the dubious reference, will watch it again but prefer these books as sources.[3] Will watch the Marr documentary again, but the "Jerry Doherty in Darwin's Garden" series was much better, worth looking out for. . . dave souza, talk 21:56, 1 December 2009 (UTC)
Just to be clear, if we can get rid of "coy" I'd be happier, it seems a loaded word and one that Browne and Bowler find unnecessary. Haven't found discussion of this detailed point in Desmond and Moore's books yet, may try later. As for documentaries, "What Darwin Didn't Know" with Prof Armand Marie Leroi narrating was excellent. Any idea which of the three Marr episodes has the famous remark? . . dave souza, talk 22:14, 1 December 2009 (UTC)
I agree. The word connotates the batting of eyelashes and does not seem like a "scientific" word, nor behavior that Darwin would engage in, from my point of view, looking at various dictionary definitions of the word. Also, its meaning seems to have changed over time. —mattisse (Talk) 22:26, 1 December 2009 (UTC)
After reading Quammen and Costa, especially Quammen I think they intended to imply a certain slyness in Darwin's oblique allusion in that he didn't want to make a big statement on an emotionally charged topic that would tend to distract attention away from his larger point, but he definately wanted to plant a seed. I am mostly happy with Dave's wording except for the word "dutiful" which doesn't have quite the sly connotation that the sources I am reading imply. I am going to tweak it a little more. I am not trying to be difficult but I don't care for having a resolved tag stuck on a debate I am participating in without being given a reasonable chance to respond... It will be reolved when we settle on wording we can agree on, not before. Rusty Cashman (talk) 02:59, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

Ok, I expanded it a little and I think made it a little more clear. I am hoping the result is consistent with what Dave drew from Browne, as well as with the 3 secondary sources I consulted (Costa, Quammen, and Larson), and I think it works well with the following sentence. I will avoid tempting fate by restoring the resolved template until Dave and Matisse have had a chance to take a pass.Rusty Cashman (talk) 04:03, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

Protection?

This article is on the first page, isn't it supposed to be write-protected for most people? Currently seeing quite a lot of vandalism (and also non-vandalism questionable edits). —Preceding unsigned comment added by 85.225.6.124 (talk) 10:31, 24 November 2009 (UTC)

The usual aim is to show that everyone can edit articles, but if the vandalism gets too much it can be semi-protected for a while, as happened earlier today. Thanks, dave souza, talk 10:37, 24 November 2009 (UTC)

Pages

Someone added 465 pages to the infobox: the first edition seems to have had 490 pages before the index, not sure how these things are counted. . . dave souza, talk 10:37, 24 November 2009 (UTC)

Also note, 1859 was delinked in an edit, I've restored it as 1859 in science is specific, worth reviewing? . . dave souza, talk 11:30, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
No, that's fine. I suspect the editor took it to be the link to a year and removed it per mos/date, but you are linking it into the context of science during that year. SGGH ping! 11:44, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
Nope. There was a clue with my "delinked science year" summary. Anyway, as you say, it appears to be permissible. - Dudesleeper / Talk 12:45, 24 November 2009 (UTC)

Background & Reception

Neither section seems to mention Patrick Matthew. Peter jackson (talk) 11:51, 24 November 2009 (UTC)

Nor William Charles Wells – if these belong anywhere, it would be in the reference to the Historical sketch in #Title pages and introduction, in my opinion. Neither influenced the writing of the book, and Matthew had little effect on the reception, so should not be given undue weight. . dave souza, talk 12:05, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
These and other figures that had ideas that anticipated Darwin's concept of natural selection are discussed in history of evolutionary thought. I agree with Dave that none of them (except Wallace of course) had any impact on the writing or reception of Origin (other than to have their existence acknowledged in the historical sketch that appeared in the 3rd edition). Bowler (2003) is among several sources that address this issue in some depth. Rusty Cashman (talk) 02:48, 25 November 2009 (UTC)
After further consideration, I figure that this question is liable to be raised again in the future. Therefore I have added a brief mention of Matthew and Wells where Dave suggested.Rusty Cashman (talk) 04:57, 25 November 2009 (UTC)

Happy 150th!

Congratulations! :-) Cheers, Wassupwestcoast (talk) 13:22, 24 November 2009 (UTC)

Very glad

I'm so glad this article is on the front page. Maybe some of these creationists in denial will finally see the light. Well, here's to hoping anyway. Wikipediarules2221 20:41, 24 November 2009 (UTC)

  • You have a backwards -- hopefully, someday, evolutionists will realize that they believe in a fable that has its foundation in baseless deceit. Creationism (intelligent design, or whatever you want to call it) is the only logical/plausible theory. -- CTS  Talk   Contribs 21:33, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
    • Lets nip this in the bud before it gets out of hand. Wikipedia policy (see the banner at the top of this page) is that talk pages are for discussing the contents of the article itself and ways to improve it, not for general debates about the subject matter. Rusty Cashman (talk) 02:59, 25 November 2009 (UTC)
      • Haha, thanks for the laugh CTS, I needed that! Wikipediarules2221 06:33, 26 November 2009 (UTC)
        • Sorry, I'm not sure what you find so funny. Did you just finally realize the absurdity behind your sentiment?? Either way, you're welcome. Glad I could make you laugh. -- CTS  Talk   Contribs 17:37, 26 November 2009 (UTC)
Please think of the kittens. And the monkeys. And this thread.

This discussion thread not only fails to be relevant to the article, it also fails to bring up any arguments at all neither for nor against neither evolution nor creationism. Utterly pointless as it is, wouldn't it be best to simply let this poor thread die in peace? Have mercy on it. Please do not torture this defenseless thread. - Soulkeeper (talk) 08:57, 27 November 2009 (UTC)

Excellent work

The creationist/evolutionist squabble aside (like the above), this is an extremely well crafted article on an important encyclopedic topic. The editors (as well as the FAC contributors) who put so much time and effort to get this article up to FA standards in time for the 150th anniversary deserve the Wikipedia community's gratitude. This was of considerable service and benefit to the encyclopedia. Great job! AgneCheese/Wine 21:41, 24 November 2009 (UTC)

On the behalf of a number of other editors who have improved this article as well as myself, I thank you for the kind words. Rusty Cashman (talk) 03:03, 25 November 2009 (UTC)