How Darwin won the evolution race

There is a cool article in the Observer today on the "race" between Darwin and Wallace on publishing the theory of natural selection (How Darwin won the evolution race | Science | The Observer).

When I read this I cannot help wonder what would have happened if this race had happened today. With publishing and the spread of ideas occurring at a much slower pace in the past, Darwin could afford a bit of time to polish up all the lines of thought and evidence presented in the Origin of Species. It is really his work on building up such evidence that helped convince people of the importance of natural selection. So - if this had happened today - Darwin and Wallace would certainly have been on Science Friday. Lots of bloggers would have written about it. But would Darwin have taken the time to polish up his loose ends or would he have just rushed out his short paper on natural selection and then gotten caught up in the hype and debate?

Anyway, the article has some good bits both about the history and about the acceptance (or lack thereof) of evolution and natural selection today. My favorite lines is:
Natural selection is simply too important for society to live without it, he (Steven Jones) argues. It is the grammar of the living world and provides biologists with the means to make sense of our planet's myriad plants and animals

5 comments:

  1. Terrific article. Thanks for the link!

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  2. I posted on this article too. The line that grabbed me, but didn't mention was where Jones says, 'It's a passing phase. In 20 years, this nonsense will have gone.'

    I couldn't decide whether he was optimistic or crazy.

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  3. "But would Darwin have taken the time to polish up his loose ends or would he have just rushed out his short paper on natural selection and then gotten caught up in the hype and debate?"

    No -- he'd have to go ahead and publish a quick paper without the several books full of evidence and examples, and, consequently, it would take many decades of further experiments and observations before everyone took the idea seriously.

    Oh, wait...

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  4. Joe

    Are you suggesting that is what happened anyway (I am a bit dense today I guess so I am not sure what you mean)

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