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I.W.'s picture

Telling the Story of Evolution

In reading “What Evolution Is” I am struck by how much the story of the discovery of evolution has been simplified since 1859.  So often the story is told as if Darwin came up with his theory of evolution spontaneously while exploring the Galapagos Islands. Now, I am a steadfast follower of Darwin, and am forever in awe of his brilliance, but I will also easily admit that he did not discover it all on his own.  Reading Mayr and his summary of the scientific discoveries that opened the door for Darwin, including Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck’s evolutionary theory in 1809, it shocks me how much the story has been simplified to being just Darwin aboard the Beagle discovering evolution. In light of our class discussions about people using the story that best suits their life, why is it that the story of evolution has been cut down to just Darwin?  Is it simply due to the story then being easier to tell, or does it run deeper to a collective desire to think that one man could be his own scientific island?

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