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Surprising things about Charles Darwin. Just a guy with a good idea? n Darwin just a normal guy with problems and opportunities n Never said “Man came.

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Presentation on theme: "Surprising things about Charles Darwin. Just a guy with a good idea? n Darwin just a normal guy with problems and opportunities n Never said “Man came."— Presentation transcript:

1 Surprising things about Charles Darwin

2 Just a guy with a good idea? n Darwin just a normal guy with problems and opportunities n Never said “Man came from monkeys” n Respect the man and his accomplishments if not his idea

3 LifelineLifeline n Born 1809 n Study (Edinburgh and Cambridge) 1825-1831 n Voyage of the Beagle 1831-36 n Retired to Down 1842 n The Origin of Species 1859 n Died 1882 Darwin’s home at Down, near London

4 Darwin’s achievements n Transformed biological science  Both style and content  Still the cornerstone of biology  Now the cutting edge of psychology n Transformed attitudes of humanity to our place in the universe

5 Not just an evolutionist n Not even a biologist to start with n Collected beetles for fun n Studied geology more seriously n Considered himself a geologist throughout the Beagle voyage and for some time after n Famous for working out how coral atolls are formed

6 His books (not just on evolution) n Beagle voyage n Coral reefs n Volcanic islands n Geology of South America n Barnacles n Species n Man n Emotions n Climbing plants n Domestication n Cross and self fertilisation n Orchids n Worms n Autobiography

7 Contribution to style of science n Pre-Darwin, science was done in homage to God and approved by the church n Was primarily descriptive n Deduction and theorizing was disparaged and condemned as “speculation” n Darwin used detailed observation to explore much larger questions - helped change scientific methods

8 Natural selection n Developed theory in complete isolation n In face of violent opposition n With no knowledge of genetics n With no knowledge of DNA n With no observations of natural selection actually occurring

9 Not first to propose evolution n French tradition  Jean-Baptiste Lamark  Etienne Geoffroy St Hilaire n Erasmus Darwin (Grandfather) n Robert Grant (Mentor) n Was expounded in a popular book (“Vestiges”) 15 years before “Origin”

10 Darwin was mis-credited n Died famous for evolution (which was not his idea) n Natural selection not widely accepted, even among his supporters n Darwin remained convinced n Only 40-50 years later did scientists appreciate his foresight.

11 The Beagle Only 90 foot long, but carrying 74 people.

12 Joining the Beagle Voyage n Not paid for 5 years on Beagle. n Actually, he had to pay! n Was lucky to get on  replaced someone who was shot in a duel  his father opposed him going n Mainly asked because of his class, to keep Captain Fitzroy company n It was the making of him

13 Galapogos, 1835 n Portrayed as a “Eureka” experience. n Actually, was hugely homesick n Did not recognize significance until back in England, 1837.  Worked out theory much later.  First inkling of natural selection in 1838. n Turtles & finches were key evidence  On boat home, ate turtles, dumped shells  Thought finches different species; didn’t even label them properly



16 The Beagle in Sydney Harbor

17 Darwin in Australia n Only visited three places in Australia  Sydney, Jan 1836  Hobart, Feb 1836  Albany, Mar 1836 “On the whole I do not like New South Wales. It is no doubt an admirable place to accumulate pounds and shillings; but heaven forbid that I should live where every man is sure be somewhere between a petty rogue and a bloodthirsty villain.” (Darwin to Henslow)

18 The Big Idea: Natural Selection n He knew about fossils n Collected many for extinct animals n Knew about Lyell’s theory of “evolution” of geology n Read Malthus (an economist) on population and competition for resources. n His ideas developed steadily over 20 years Darwin’s sand walk at Down: a daily thoughtful stroll

19 Influence of economics n He read Malthus and Adam Smith n Saw specialization benefits in factory- Wedgewood China (wife’s family owned it) n Evolutionary biology makes use of models from economics, especially game theory.  Example: “The Selfish Gene”, Richard Dawkins

20 Slow to publish: Why so long? n Anguish n Illness n Slow development of ideas n Collection of a wealth of evidence that needed to be analyzed

21 AnguishAnguish n Social class  Respectability  Evolution subversive - against his class n Religous considerations  especially worried about hurting wife Emma who grieved for his soul n Scientific prejudice against “speculation” n “Like confessing a murder.”

22 IllnessIllness n Sea sickness n Problems throughout life  violent shivering, vomiting, exhaustion, palpitations, hands trembling, head swimming, sleeplessness, headaches, flatulance, stomach problems, ringing of ears, fainting, copious palid urine n In 1841 could work “an hour or two a couple of days a week.” n Chaga’s disease or just nervous?

23 CourageCourage n On Beagle voyage, rode hundreds of miles through bandit areas and war zones in South America n Worked through his illnesses. n Was willing to publish “Origins” despite the risks

24 WealthWealth n Father a wealthy doctor n Reduced his enthusiasm to get a job as a doctor or clergyman n Wealth bought time and resources n Made money from investments (land and railway stocks), not from books

25 Alfred Russel Wallace n Thought of natural selection (1959) n Wrote to Darwin n Darwin had been working on book n Published a “letter” jointly n Wallace didn’t  put in the hard yards collecting and documenting evidence to support theory  remain in favour of the theory n Darwin did!

26 ReligionReligion n Started out on path to clergy  “The Darwins had produced lawyers and military men, but Charles lacked the self- discipline. There was, however, a safety net to stop second sons becoming wastrels: the Church of England. An aimless son with a penchant for field sports would fit in nicely.” (Desmond & Moore) n Signed 39 articles of faith n A naturalist parson?

27 n Religion did accommodate Darwin to some extent  Many religious leaders not literalist  Science served religion, so its findings were taken as revelations of God’s plan n Buried in Westminster Abbey  The Times: “The Abbey needed Darwin more than Darwin needed the Abbey.” Religious conflict n Samuel Wilberforce vs T.H.Huxley “Was it from your mother’s side or your father’s side that you were descended from an ape?” “If the question is whether I would rather have a miserable ape for a grandfather or a man of means and influence who uses these gifts to introduce ridicule into a grave scientific discussion, I unhesitatingly affirm my preference for the ape!” “For once reality and his brain came into contact, and the result was fatal.” Years later Wilberforce fell off his horse, landed on his head and was killed.


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