There’s more to a book than a title

Talk about clueless gomers—here’s a Canadian blog praising the Expelled movie, and bringing up a very tired argument against evolution.

For the trolls (and you know who you are!), I simply offer the original title Darwin gave to his book,

On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life

,and ask you to explain how such a social (and Holocaust-endorsing) statement can be classified as the title of a purely scientific work — until I get a direct answer to that, I will not respond to any of your inquiries as I haven’t seemed to get much of a response on mine and think I’m overdue!

First of all, the logic is deeply flawed: if evolutionary theory did have undesirable social consequences, that wouldn’t be a valid argument against the truth of evolution.

Secondly, and more conclusively, the question reveals quite a bit about the questioner. He hasn’t read the book he’s criticizing, beyond copying down the title! The Origin is using “race” in an antiquated way that refers to what we’d now call varieties — he doesn’t discuss human races at all, but does talk a great deal about domesticated breeds of pigeons and horses and vegetables. It certainly doesn’t endorse any kind of holocaust. Darwin doesn’t advocate any action, but is offering a descriptive explanation for what is.

The Origin is a purely scientific work, rich in detail and experiment and offering a useful framework for subsequent research. A man who can barely read past the title is in no position to make demands for explanations or deplore the unread contents of the book.

(via Canadian Cynic)


  1. #1 Graachus Baubüf
    January 13, 2008

    “You have to remember, these are the same people who think wearing a flag on their car or lapel automatically makes them patriotic. It’s always the aesthetics of something that counts, not the content.”

    Before we in academia get too high and mighty in our condemnation of the focus on aesthetics, let’s just remember the Sokal affair. It is all too easy to attribute this sort of behavior to fundamentalists or the right, but the truth is, it’s a basic human flaw. Though one, it should be noted, easily corrected by even a meager understanding of critical thinking and basic logic.

  2. #2 David Marjanovi?, OM
    January 13, 2008

    If you don’t want “nil change”, are you really conservative?