Will Darwin be canceled?

Given the scientific and political luminaries who have fallen under the axe, it’s not beyond possibility that Charles Darwin himself may undergo a “reevaluation,” with people discovering what we already knew: Darwin, like many people of the mid-19th century, had some bigoted views of whites (i.e., Brits) as a superior race. Yet Darwin never did anything but write a bit about it in The Voyage of the Beagle and The Descent of Man, and was, to boot, an ardent abolitionist along with his wife’s family, the Wedgewoods. Josiah Wedgewood, Darwin’s grandfather (and also his wife Emma’s), designed this ceramic medallion that was popular among abolitionists as early as 1787. That may be enough to save Charles but, as we know, one misstep can cancel you for keeps. And Darwin made more than one—according to today’s lights.

“Am I not a man and a brother?”

It’s thus possible that Darwin could meet the fate of other scientists who unfortunately didn’t foresee the change in morality in the last century and a half, and his statues and other honorifics could come down. In a piece before the one I’m mentioning today, sociologist Noah Carl (who’s had a bit of tumultuous history, having been canceled himself) wrote in RT about the possibility that Darwin might be canceled because of his views:

In summary, Darwin believed that men were on average more intelligent than women, and that some races were “civilised” whereas others were “savage.” His views on eugenics are not entirely clear (the term was coined one year after Darwin died), but it is obvious from his remarks in The Descent of Man that he believed industrial society could have dysgenic effects. Over the years, many scientists who have expressed views less invidious than these have been defenestrated, and one wonders whether Darwin will now suffer the same fate.

In the piece below from Medium, Carl has gone a bit farther, predicting the impending cancellation of Darwin. I don’t share his fears, mainly because Darwin hedged his bets a bit, was an abolitionist, and I suppose I’m optimistic enough to think that Darwin’s great contribution to biology—indeed, to all humanity—must outweigh any of the minimal conventional bigotry he espoused during his lifetime. But I guess I could have said that about Jefferson, too, and look what happened to him.

Click on the screenshot to read.

Carl’s method is to give quotes that resulted in the “cancellation” of figures like Hume and Linnaeus, and then quote Darwin on the issue of race, with the quotes not being that different in tenor from those of The Canceled.

Here are a few passages from Darwin, all from The Descent of Man (1871):

The taste for the beautiful, at least as far as female beauty is concerned, is not of a special nature in the human mind; for it differs widely in the different races of man, as will hereafter be shewn, and is not quite the same even in the different nations of the same race. Judging from the hideous ornaments and the equally hideous music admired by most savages, it might be urged that their æsthetic faculty was not so highly developed as in certain animals, for instance, in birds. Obviously no animal would be capable of admiring such scenes as the heavens at night, a beautiful landscape, or refined music; but such high tastes, depending as they do on culture and complex associations, are not enjoyed by barbarians or by uneducated persons.

There are passages similar to this throughout the Voyage of the Beagle, with the terms “barbarian” and “savage” used liberally.  Here’s another from The Descent of Man:

Most savages are utterly indifferent to the sufferings of strangers, or even delight in witnessing them. It is well known that the women and children of the North-American Indians aided in torturing their enemies. Some savages take a horrid pleasure in cruelty to animals, and humanity with them is an unknown virtue. Nevertheless, feelings of sympathy and kindness are common, especially during sickness, between the members of the same tribe, and are sometimes extended beyond the limits of the tribe. Mungo Park’s touching account of the kindness of the negro women of the interior to him is well known. Many instances could be given of the noble fidelity of savages towards each other, but not to strangers; common experience justifies the maxim of the Spaniard, “Never, never trust an Indian.”

That alone should be enough to do in Darwin. Why couldn’t he have anticipated the greater enlightenment of 20th-century Europeans. But wait! There’s more!

The belief that there exists in man some close relation between the size of the brain and the development of the intellectual faculties is supported by the comparison of the skulls of savage and civilised races, of ancient and modern people, and by the analogy of the whole vertebrate series. Dr. J. Barnard Davis has proved by many careful measurements, that the mean internal capacity of the skull in Europeans is 92·3 cubic inches; in Americans 87·5; in Asiatics 87·1; and in Australians only 81·9 inches.

You could even make the case that Darwin favored eugenics, but you’d have to do so by taking one of his quotes out of context. (That’s no problem for the Cancel Culture, as we saw from the attack on Steve Pinker.) Here Darwin analogizes humans with artificially selected animals, and suggests that scientific advances have actually led to the hereditary degeneration of humans (this is also from The Descent of Man):

With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

That last sentence is alone sufficient ammunition to cancel poor Charles.

But if you ever see this quote used against Darwin, be aware that although it’s true that medical care has allowed the preservation of genes that would be injurious “in the wild”, Darwin adheres to our own view of what we should do about this—nothing. On the same page he says this:

The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, if so urged by hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature […] Hence we must bear without complaining the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely the weaker and inferior members of society not marrying so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased, though this is more to be hoped for than expected, by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage.

Carl concludes that if there’s a valid case for dethroning people like Hume, Galton, Fisher, and Linnaeus for their “retrograde” views on race and white superiority, then you can make an equally compelling case against Darwin. Well, in principle you could, especially if you’re not overly fastidious about viewing the entirety of his views and actions. But I don’t think this will happen.

Carl also concludes—and I agree—that the “defenestration” of figures like those mentioned above is not warranted unless you’re willing to cancel Darwin as well. As we discussed yesterday, morality advances, and if your views were the “received wisdom” of those in an earlier time, you become much less culpable than if you expressed them now.

h/t: Ben

58 Comments

  1. DrBrydon
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    How dare the past not share our modern, correct sensibilities!? I would like to ask some doyen of the woke what white male, dead at least thirty years, they would considered admirable. I have no doubt that Darwin will be canceled, but it will ultimately because evolution is a barrier to ideological thinking. Let me know when they cancel Mohammad.

  2. jezgrove
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    “Josiah Wedgewood, Darwin’s grandfather (and also his wife Emma’s)” – of course , Darwin also shared a grandfather (Erasmus Darwin) with his cousin Francis Galton.

  3. Ray Little
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    I predict that Darwin will survive, even though he had Evil Galton for a cousin. I’m glad for the ‘cancellation’ of Darwin and Bernard Shaw, because it points up the pretension of the cancellation claims. The Woke will be forgotten in a decade, though still living, and Darwin and GBS will live on, although dead. Orwell’s aphorism, roughly, (you must be an intellectual, no normal person would believe an idea that stupid*) is a consolation to normal people everywhere, even those who happen to be intellectually inclined.

    *I can’t be arsed to look it up.

    • savage
      Posted September 16, 2020 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      Darwin was more careful than Galton, but endorsed Hereditary Genius and doesn’t seem to have disagreed with his famous cousin on eugenics (Galton wanted it to be voluntary and encourage the most able to breed). Reminds me of James Watson: Francis Crick agreed with him on the black-white IQ gap being mostly genetic, but did not say that so openly, which is why there is still a Francis Crick Institute.

      • Richard Goscicki
        Posted September 18, 2020 at 11:49 am | Permalink

        There is no genetic difference between the races other than the gene for sickle cell anemia. The difference in IQ and other traits are therefore all sociogenic.

        • Posted September 18, 2020 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

          You have no idea what you’re talking about. First of all, the sickle cell allele is found in non-“black” populations, though not as frequently as in West African blacks Second, these kinds of frequency differences are seen in many genes, like lactose tolerance or, of course, skin pigmentation genes. I’d give you some references but you’re too thick-headed to pay attention.

  4. Posted September 16, 2020 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    There is something about everyone past, present, and future that could cause their “cancel.” If you look at flaws under high magnification under a microscope, they will be as big as the huge ones we see with just our eyes. A friend sent this quote to me as an example of our cancel culture:

    “If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.”

    ~Cardinal Richelieu

  5. Posted September 16, 2020 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    I believe what the woke are actually trying to cancel are the enlightenment values that the cancelled figures advocated. So if they come for Darwin, it is evolution they are after. Eventually they will turn their malign attention to John Stuart Mill, if they haven’t already.

  6. Hob Gadling
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    If “cancellation” means retaining the intellectual insights of these men while retracting honours and removing statues, I honestly don’t see the problem.

    Frankly, as an anti-religionist, all this hero-worship looks rather suspiciously to me like religion. And I would have thought that, to committed religionists, it would smack of idolatry.

    • Hob Gadling
      Posted September 16, 2020 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      Although, I suppose this Woke movement is itself of religious provenance, and should be opposed because of that.

  7. A C Harper
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Corin Faife has an article on Medium https://medium.com/s/magic-is-a-spiritual-technology/what-we-talk-about-when-we-talk-about-magic-47c958ad1b72 .

    I’d apply similar arguments to the Woke. They are (mostly) younger people trying to regain their agency against a world that appears to be against them. Wokeism is a ‘political’ framework which is used to transform the negative emotions into positive ones by creating routines, rituals and physical identity clothing to add a new layer of meaning to the fabric of everyday life. Cancellation is one of those rituals, together with deplatforming and protests.

    If this concept is true then arguing with the Woke using reason and facts is likely to be as useful as arguing with a religious believer about the facts contrary to their faith – i.e. hardly any use at all.

    Arguing that Darwin was an abolitionist will have the same impact as arguing the conversion of the substance of the Eucharistic elements into the body and blood of Christ at consecration, only the appearances of bread and wine still remaining – i.e. hardly any use at all.

    My suggestion is that the Woke are powered by emotion. How you show the limitations of their political framework will require a different approach than rational argumentation.

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    “Judging from the hideous ornaments and the equally hideous music admired by most savages …”

    Dang, Chuck sounds like the old farts used to yell at me as a kid to “TURN THAT DAMN JUNGLE MUSIC DOWN!”

  9. Historian
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Darwin seems to conclude that there are indeed weaker members of society and it would be nice if they disappeared. Unfortunately, due to medical care and the instinct of sympathy they are still around. Perhaps, he muses, the fact that they breed less than the stronger members, they will eventually disappear because of this, but he doesn’t think this very likely. So, alas, there is nothing we can do about this sorry situation.

    Darwin would most likely be even more horrified today because the “inferior” people seem to be breeding at a higher rate than the superior ones. I think most people today find such views abhorrent except for right-wing extremists. But, as always, the scientific contributions of an individual must be recognized regardless of the person’s personal beliefs. Here I make a distinction between recognized and honored. Of course, he needs to be recognized for his extraordinary scientific contributions. However, whether he should be honored as a “good man” is another question, worthy of debate since he was an abolitionist.

    I hope to learn more about the specifics of Darwin’s abolitionist thoughts. Did he believe in gradual or immediate abolition? What would happen to the slaves once freed? Did he think that freed slaves could be integrated into British society or somehow be segregated? Did he think they should be allowed to vote or serve on juries? These questions confronted American abolitionists, and often their answers differed. So, to say that Darwin was an abolitionist says very little about him. We need more information, if it is available.

    Some of this information is available in a 2009 article in Prospect Magazine by Adrian Desmond entitled “Darwin the Abolitionist.” In this rather long article, Desmond comes to a mixed conclusion about Darwin. He notes:

    “He used Malthusian ideas to normalise and naturalise the colonial genocide, making it part of the evolutionary process, suggesting how such conflict was not only “natural,” but beneficial (inasmuch as the “fitter” survivors carried the human race forward). The uncivilised peoples of the plains were going the way of the megafauna he found fossilised under their feet. But Darwin took colonial conflict as an inevitability to be explained, not a policy choice to be challenged. It is a supreme irony that the gentle, squeamish abolitionist should end up justifying colonial eradication.”

    But, he concludes that “rather than being a dispassionate practice, his science had a humanitarian drive. It made brothers and sisters not only of all human races, but of all life.”

    Based on this article, it would seem that Darwin was rather confused in his view of superior and inferior races. He tried to square this with his view of common descent. I’m guessing (I can easily be wrong) that he never actually succeeded.

    https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/charles-darwin-the-abolitionist

    • Posted September 16, 2020 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      “Darwin would most likely be even more horrified today because the “inferior” people seem to be breeding at a higher rate than the superior ones.”

      Do you seriously believe that if Darwin lived in contemporary times he would nonetheless have Victorian prejudices and be horrified?And do you think that if we lived in Darwin’s time we would have contemporary moral ethics? Far more likely we’d have Darwin’s ethics, if not worse.

      • Mark R.
        Posted September 16, 2020 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

        Yes, what is described would be if Darwin came here today via a time machine.

    • Ted Burk
      Posted September 16, 2020 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      See Darwin’s Sacred Cause, by Desmond & Moore

    • Posted September 16, 2020 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      I wonder how people nowadays would think of Newton, who was frankly a lunatic in many ways, and an a**hole by all accounts…but it’s hard to think of anyone who has contributed more to our understanding of the world and universe. Perhaps his nuttiness was not focused as much on things that would be politically dubious nowadays, but if you had asked him, I have no doubt he would have said some horrifying things.

      • pablo
        Posted September 16, 2020 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

        Feminists have already denounced his Principia as a “rape manual.”

      • Posted September 16, 2020 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

        As Master of the Mint, Newton had several people hung, and apparently took pleasure in it.

        • Filippo
          Posted September 16, 2020 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

          “As Master of the Mint, Newton had several people hung, and apparently took pleasure in it.”

          I wonder if, when taking a break from his alchemy, he kept a noose hanging in his closet in his rooms at Cambridge.

        • Posted September 17, 2020 at 8:10 am | Permalink

          Yeah, he was a bit of a wrong ‘un, as I think Bill Bailey put it on QI.

    • savage
      Posted September 16, 2020 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      > He used Malthusian ideas to normalise and naturalise the colonial genocide

      In Darwin’s lifetime, Native Americans were fading away along with other non-European groups. This was mostly caused by their lack of resistance to Old World diseases, which they had not developed mostly due to different lifestyles and geographic isolation. I can see how that correlation could have been misleading. It’s less obvious that Darwin would not have acknowledged the error once confronted with new evidence.

      • W.Benson
        Posted September 16, 2020 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

        But it was governments, priests, capitalists, and aristocrats who put into practice colonial genocide! Consider Leopold’s Belgian Congo, Germany’s Namibia, or the United State’s native peoples. And while we are at it, shouldn’t the hateful Japanese flag, the red blot of genocide if there ever was one, be universally banned? I don’t think Darwin ever actually twisted anyone’s arm, much less proposed that anyone deserved be enslaved or killed. I’m being sarcastic, but not entirely.

      • Posted September 17, 2020 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

        One csn draw a straight line from the German’s racial experiments in Namibia to development of their Nazi racial theories and ultimate practices. Interestingly, a man named Goering was the colonial chief in Namibia; his son was Hermann Goering.

  10. eric
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Whenever denouncing witches is seen as a social good, there will arise a demand for more witches to denounce. Right on the heels of this is: if you aren’t personally finding any, you must be one.

  11. Tim J Reichert
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    I thought the whole idea of science was that it doesn’t rely on the character or social status of “great men?”

    You can’t “cancel” the theory of relativity or the speed of light or the theory of evolution because the methods of science will just rediscover them.

    I disagree with what’s happening re cancelings of certain people for moral anachronisms but it doesn’t concern me as much as it seems to concern others. As I have said before, it may be time for us to stop doing what we have been doing, this tradition of lionizing certain humans for accomplishments in science or philosophy or politics. Instead we should be focused on the ideas themselves, not the human who brought them to light. This is especially true if we don’t believe in free will. We should be happy for Darwin’s work but not treat him like a god or a “great man.” MLK said some great things and he also did some douchey things. So lets celebrate the great things he said and not the man himself.

    If Darwin gets “cancelled” all it means is there will be no buildings or statues in his name. Natural selection will remain in tact and his name will remain in the history books and in the science books. I quarrel with the characterization of this as “cancelled.” He’s still here just not in statues or buildings. What’s the harm? I see a harm in doing this selectively but not if we do it to everyone which I think we should. What would be the harm?

    • Posted September 16, 2020 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      I think you don’t realize that when someone is demonized, their works don’t get taught as much. That is the harm. Do people read Huckleberry Finn or To Kill a Mockingbird as much as they used to? No, because the authors used the “n word”. Even Martin Luther King’s works are being mischaracterized as condoning violence to make them comport with modern sensibilities.

      And of course it distorts both history and one’s moral perspective to go after people in the past because their views aren’t the same as today. What’s the harm in that? Well, you can say “no harm,” but I disagree.

    • Mike
      Posted September 17, 2020 at 1:33 am | Permalink

      @Tim I think I understand what you’re proposing. Possibly you’re not wrong when it comes to the knowledge and ideas that someone like Darwin passed on to us: we would still have those ideas even if we did not lionize the man himself.

      I have a different concern: training new researchers depends in part on inspiring them to greatness, and that training is aided by pointing to inspiring individuals who achieved great insight or knowledge or technical advances. Darwin was such a person. Flattening out the landscape of great researchers down to just their ideas or discoveries, and eliminating the individuals themselves, takes away an important source of inspiration for the next generation of researchers. I don’t think we should throw away that scientific inspiration just because some of those individuals had some other Victorian ideas.

  12. Posted September 16, 2020 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Big D will surely be cancelled by those who don’t have a great investment in science. Many of those exist in the humanities. By ‘many’ I mean pretty much all of them, near as I can tell.

    Woke biologists will hesitate before pulling the trigger on this one. But even if they move to defend D as an exception, it won’t matter. There is no head office for cancelling.

  13. Curtis
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    The woke will try to cancel everybody. Where they rule, they will succeed. In academia, there will be a bunch of old farts clutching their Darwin fish, reading Shakespeare and Toynbee, remembering the fight for civil rights while screaming “Get off my lawn.”

  14. Randall Schenck
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    I wonder how many people of this cancel fame are checking the politics or racial views of their doctors? How about their dentist or the teachers they send their kids to for learning. Did you test those teachers thoughts before you shipped the kids off to school. Maybe the mechanic that works on your car should be tested before you let him or her work on that vehicle. I suspect the answer to all of this is no. It is much saver to dig up the dead who lived in another generation and pronounce judgment on them. They cannot bite back.

  15. Posted September 16, 2020 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Is this the beginning of an “I am Spartacus!” effort against Cancel Culture? If everyone is cancelled, then it becomes meaningless. Here we have a scientist offering up one of their own to get the ball rolling.

  16. Jon Gallant
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    The “lionizing” of notable figures is based on the view that the particular character of some individuals has a big impact on History.
    Old-fashioned as it is, I find it altogether plausible. Would the American republic have turned out as it did if its first executive had been less like Washington and more like Napoleon Bonaparte? Would the 20th century have been as ghastly if the leader of German Fascism had been more like the cosmopolitan and (relatively) pragmatic Mussolini, less like the bat-shit crazy Hitler?

    Or, in the present case, would evolution by natural selection have been accepted as widely and quickly if there were only Wallace’s short note, and Darwin had never
    assembled the enormous variety of evidence he did in “Origin”?

  17. Posted September 16, 2020 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    I am about as left as it gets, but it is a bit idiotic for the “woke”(whatever the fuck that means)crowd to cancel Darwin but romaticize the teachings of Mohammad. I’m a bit confused by “cancel” as well. Who is doing the “cancelling?” And does it involve book burning? It’s become I can’t trust the left or the right.

  18. Jonathan Gossage
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    We are looking at a situation where some people believe that anyone can be cancelled for any reason acceptable to the canceller. The question then becomes “Who is cancelled?”.

    • Jon Gallant
      Posted September 16, 2020 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      Or alternatively that old, familiar question:
      Quis cancelet ipsos cancelodes?
      [Pardon my pig-Latin.]

  19. Caldwell Titcomb IV
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Since we’re speaking of a scientist, has anyone shown that Darwin’s observations are incorrect or that his conclusions are false?

    In summary, Darwin believed that men were on average more intelligent than women,

    Guess the answer: “Is there a sex difference in IQ scores?”

    And The principal interest of the results is that these longitudinaldata show that the same girls, who obtained a higher average IQ than boys at the ages of 7 and 11 years, obtained a lower average IQ than boys at the age 16 years. There’s are considerable differences between childhood IQs and adult IQ (adult is about 20% more genetic, for one).

    It is well known that the women and children of the North-American Indians aided in torturing their enemies.

    That is well-documented by any number of early explorers, and it’s why they would commit suicide rather than be captured, despite their common belief that they’d go to Hell as a result.

  20. Caldwell Titcomb IV
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 2:37 pm | Permalink


    Some savages take a horrid pleasure in cruelty to animals,

    We lived just off the Navajo reservation and would sometimes find the remains of dogs that had been tied up and tortured, legs cut off, etc. A Navajo vet in Kayenta old us in regard to other Navajo behaviors with dogs, “they do it just to be mean.”

    mean internal capacity of the skull

    There is a about .40 correlation between brain size and IQ, and the racial brain sizes have the same rank order as racial IQ:
    Asian > White > Amerindian > Black

    We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; …etc ..

    Those statements are so obviously true that they hardly need any support, A review of Dysgenics: Genetic Deterioration in Modern Populations (W. D. HAMILTON) He’s dubious of some conclusions, but can’t ignore them (And, BTW, “Since head size ispositively correlated with intelligence”)

  21. Posted September 16, 2020 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    New evidence. So we cancel Newton, Darwin, and Einstein. Quo vadis?

  22. Lee
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    While I am no longer religious, I don’t count the entirety of my religious upbringing or subsequent developments (returned Mormon missionary) as time wasted. There are many pearls of wisdom from the Bible that I wish more people, including Christians, would take to heart. One of them being “judge not lest ye be judged”, and “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”.

    I’d like to suggest that those who delight in criticizing the main person who gave us the keys to understanding life on earth wait until they have a similarly significant accomplishment under their own belt before they proceed.

    On the other hand, I get why mediocrities so poorly educated as to think critical race theory is anything special would take some satisfaction in thus criticizing their betters. Invalid satisfaction is better than no satisfaction, I guess.

  23. Posted September 16, 2020 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Will Darwin be cancelled? Well, the far left (notice I said far, not left in general) might certainly try. For the extreme left, nothing is ever woke up enough, ever pure enough. They often forget that, like you said, morality does develop as the ages go by. Most of us in this day and age are not going to be looked at as enlightened another twenty years, or less, from now.

    • Filippo
      Posted September 16, 2020 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      “Most of us in this day and age are not going to be looked at as enlightened another twenty years, or less, from now.”

      We already are told by the New Woke Times and their ilk that we are “irrelevant” (in relation to what or whom, pray tell). I will take one nanosecond and adorn myself with sackcloth and ashes.

  24. Posted September 16, 2020 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    There is the distinct possibility if Darwin could time travel he’d have trouble recognising his own work and change, tweek his freeking god damned mind and boggle with what we now know.
    E.G, so called civilized people’s, like evolution, is very much still a work in progress and the genetic link for all mammalian life is a fixed reality, thanks to his signposts and modern science. Dare I say it he’d have a following on his ‘site’ like no other.
    They can go after him but the sheer weight of his work underpinning biology (in it’s basic terms) will transcend a woke wacko for… I don’t know, for as long as there is a breathing, thinking human with an eye on the truth.

  25. Filippo
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    “Obviously no animal would be capable of admiring such scenes as the heavens at night, a beautiful landscape, or refined music; but such high tastes, depending as they do on culture and complex associations, are not enjoyed by barbarians or by uneducated persons.”

    To the extent that one is uneducated, perhaps one is a barbarian.

    • Ridahoan
      Posted September 17, 2020 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      Actually that is a quote from Darwin that does show his failings perhaps as a scientist (nobody is perfect). Edward Wilson and others have suggested that what we find is ‘a beautiful landscape’ may well originate in an aesthetic tuned by natural selection to identify good hunting grounds. It isn’t unreasonable to suggest that animals select and experience natural ‘beauty’ in a similar way.

  26. aljones909
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    Not religious – but I think Jesus was an admirable moral teacher.
    Yet he said absolutely nothing about the endemic slavery of his time?
    Probably needs cancelling.

    Mow that Mohammed.

  27. W.Benson
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    About Wallace, he had some nasty words to say about the people of Indonesia, and I suppose the cancelers will dig them up sooner or later.
    Looking on Darwin’s good side, in addition to hating slavery — and he never proposed deporting Blacks back to the tropics like Abraham Lincoln did to his dying day — there he joined the Jamaica Committee (along with Herbert Spencer, John Stuart Mill, and Thomas Huxley) and, in 1866, put his money where his mouth was and donated the modern equivalent of US$1200 to bring Edward John Eyre, governor of Jamaica, to trial. [Note that Charles Dickens and Alfred Tennyson defended Eyre’s actions in the aftermath of the Morant Bay Rebellion].
    Also, from 1867 on, Darwin donated what today would be US$500 annually to an Argentinian mission school that educated and protected Native Americans. [I have also read, but can’t track down the ref, Darwin donated living expenses that allowed a young woman to attend college for a year.]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morant_Bay_rebellion
    https://www.econlib.org/library/Columns/LevyPeartdismal3.html
    https://churchmissionsociety.org/our-stories/charles-darwin-i-was-wrong/

  28. G Andres
    Posted September 17, 2020 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    What exactly would it mean to ‘cancel Darwin’ anyway ?

    Evolutionary science is light years ahead of Darwin’s theories, so it’s not like his work is driving today’s science.

  29. G Andres
    Posted September 17, 2020 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    I’m sure there’s probably some religious nutjobs out there who would LOVE to cancel Darwin…. forever !

    • Posted September 17, 2020 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      please tell me I’m not the only one who thinks that about people who have that stupid Jesus fish on the back of their car?

  30. Raymond Cox
    Posted September 17, 2020 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    Historical figures like Darwin can fairly be judged as progressive or reactionary according to their attitudes to the issues of the day. It is ridiculous to expect a Victorian gentleman to have the world-view of a Guardian reader in 2020. Such a person would be considered too radical to be part of contemporary intellectual society.

  31. Ridahoan
    Posted September 17, 2020 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Some Brits shared pro-Brit racist views in the 1800s? I would hazard a guess ‘some’ would be around 95%.

  32. Dan Steeves
    Posted September 17, 2020 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    The greatest of all absurdities is darwinism. There is absolutely no evidence in the fossil record of major life forms evolving into other major life forms. It absolutely violates the LAWS OF GENETICS. And we certainly are not seeing any evidence of evolution today.
    Why do so many very intelligent people believe in the myth of astrology? Why do so many people believe in the lying promises of politicians? Because people want to be POLITICALY CORRECT so they say they believe what the crowd believes. So it is with the stupidity of evolution and it´s sacred prophet Charles Darwin. For the same reasons very intelligent germans “believed” in the lying propaganda of Adolf Hitler. Believe what the crowd believes or be objects of ridicule.

    • Posted September 17, 2020 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      Dear Mr. Steeves,

      I wouldn’t be so proud of displaying my ignorance on a website read by over 70,000 people, most of them intelligent. Of course there is ample evidence of major and minor transitions in the fossil record, as well as of evolution occurring today. If you cared about that evidence, you’d read my book Why Evolution is True, or another like Don Prothero’s Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters.

      Either you haven’t read those books because you have no intellectual curiosity, and thus are wilfully ignorant, or you have read them and reject the mountains of evidence, which makes you obtuse and irrational. Either way, you don’t belong on this site. Imagine analogizing Darwin with Hitler—that’s the intellectual level to which you’ve sunk.

      By the way, you used “it’s” wrong. Anyway, I’m showing you the door. Go educate yourself.

      —Professor Ceiling Cat, Emeritus

      • Jon Metes
        Posted September 18, 2020 at 8:34 am | Permalink

        Steeves is quite correct in what he has said. There is no fossil record prior to the Cambrian Explosion 580 miilion years ago, vs the age of the earth 13.8 billion years ago. Darwin himself recognized that this huge’gap’ remained a major question yet to be answered in order to validate his theory. No. Cat, we are not witnessing eviolution; we are seeing ADAPTATION of certain species. Modern genetic biology has shown that evolution from one family to another does not succeed; it would require mutations which serve to destruct rather than construct. And in any event, it is now known from DNA and computer analyses that the time theoretically required for evolution would greatly exceed the age of the earth itself.

        • Jon Metes
          Posted September 18, 2020 at 8:39 am | Permalink

          Correction of my typo error: Age of the earth is 3.8B years, not 13.8. The age of the universe is estimated at 14 bllion

    • Filippo
      Posted September 17, 2020 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

      “There is absolutely no evidence in the fossil record of major life forms evolving into other major life forms.”

      For starters, assuming you darken the doors of natural history museums to look at the whale fossils, how do you explain those freely floating hip bone remnants?

      How old do you say the Earth is?

  33. steve
    Posted September 19, 2020 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    i fear he will be cancelled for a more fundamental reason: survival of the fittest means inequality is a defining feature of nature (tho it does allow for inclusion and diversity).


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