Tag Archive: darwin

Book Review: Until Darwin

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Until Darwin, Science, Human Variety and the Origins of Race Author: B. Ricardo Brown Published: 22nd September 2010 Publisher: Pickering & Chatto Summary: A fascinating insight into the early nineteenth century scientific consensus which Darwin’s Origin utterly transformed. The history of science is the history of forgetting. That is the beauty and the utility of science, a theory is no longer supported by evidence is left behind to die an obscure death. Except when it doesn’t. The theory that has refused to die is the idea that Homo sapiens can be divided into races. B. Ricardo Brown is Professor of Social Science and Cultural Studies at the Pratt Institute in New York and in his acknowledgements explained he “never wanted to write on the subject of ‘race’”. The idea of race as an objective division of humankind has been comprehensively debunked, recently with two books published in 2011, for example, Race?: Debunking a Scientific Myth by Ian Tattersall and Rob …

How Darwin predicted the genetic link

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Just over a century and a half ago, Charles Darwin finally published On the Origin of Species, explaining how all life had been shaped by natural selection. Before he explained this blind mechanism though, he softened up his readers by showing how we humans had shaped some species through artificial selection. His audience of educated Victorian gentlemen would have been more or less familiar with breeding cabbages, cows and dogs for various characteristics, but Darwin also explained the breeding of fancy pigeons. It seems fanciful to us, but scholars used to believe that different breeds of sheep or cattle had each been domesticated from a separate wild variety, instead of from just one. Darwin decided to study one species in detail to explore this notion, and hit upon fancy pigeons. According to John Ross [pictured] –  an historian of Darwin’s pigeons (www.darwinspigeons.com) and a pigeon fancier himself – it was all down to a chance sighting on a trip to London: …

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