[Taxacom] London - Systematics Association Lecture

Robin Leech releech at telus.net
Thu Dec 3 23:19:57 CST 2009


Hi Ken and Others,
The ultimate credit goes to the synthesizers: the ones who
took Darwin's stuff, Wallace's stuff, Mendel's stuff, and
Wegener's stuff and synthesized it to give us the understandings
we have today.  Criticizing is easy.  Harder is to see the
contributions in positive ways.
Robin
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Kenneth Kinman" <kennethkinman at webtv.net>
To: <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
Sent: Thursday, December 03, 2009 9:03 PM
Subject: [Taxacom] London - Systematics Association Lecture


> Hi All,
>      I agree with Robin that you have to judge Darwin within the
> context of his own times.  In that context, what he accomplished is
> remarkable.
>       To brand his shortcomings as "failures" is much too easy and
> tempting in retrospect.  Whether he gets too much credit (in comparison
> with Wallace) is debatable, but how could either of them have envisaged
> the genetic discoveries of the 20th Century given the evidence they had
> to work with.  The later discoveries of genetics were built on the
> shoulders of such giants.
>       As Richard said, the most we can accuse them of is not being as
> prescient as we might like.  Is it just too easy to criticize them 150
> years after the fact.  In the context of their times, they advanced
> knowledge considerably and set the stage for the future science of
> genetics about which they could have only guessed.  In turn, saltation
> (as opposed to gradualism) built on genetics, and was therefore even
> more removed from the scientific knowledge of Darwin's time.
>      ------Ken Kinman
> P.S.  As for the 150th Anniversary not getting much press, that is
> actually to be expected given the superifical nature of modern news
> coverage.  Sex, sports, and celebrities get an inordinate amount of
> attention (such as the coverage of Tiger's fender-bender, etc.).  So
> when something like a future new bird flu causes a "real" pandemic, we
> can then criticize the media for over-blowing such things as swine flu,
> Tiger Woods' temporary problems, or even the importance of Afghanistan
> to the future of world events.  Most modern news media (with exceptions
> such as PBS) are more interested in selling commercials than provide
> really important information that has long-term consequences.  It just
> reflects that most humans concentrate on short-term desires to the
> detriment of broader long-term goals (concentrated into the same trends
> among most of their governmental representatives continually seeking
> reelection).  A majority of humans' priorities today are pretty
> superficial and short-sighted,
> ====================================
> Robin Leech wrote:
> Mike, you must understand that his geologist mentor, Lyell, and many
> others of his day all thought things occurred gradually.  Nothing
> happened suddenly.
>
>
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