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llim's picture

Mayr and Words

After reading the first four chapters of Ernst Mayr's What Evolution Is, I didn't find myself particularly contemplative on anything in particular. If Zadie Smith's thought of novels as a two way street is to apply here, then I suppose I failed as a reader.

Mayr does an impressive job of arguing--he displays the facts and is so adamant in it that I believe many readers, so long as they are open to the idea of evolution as even a possible truth (and I do say truth and not "less wrong" because that is what I have been saying my whole life and this class has yet to make me feel compelled to stop), are compelled to feel as if evolution is truth. But words are tricky and can be very deceiving when played with correctly (or even incorrectly) and I believe that if the same reader was open to the idea of creationism as the possible truth and was to pick up a book written by someone who believes in creationism as ardently as Mayr believes in evolution, that reader could also be compelled to think of creationism as truth. If anything, I suppose Mayr's book, instead of making me question every other creation theory out there save evolution, instead made me look at his words. I've always been somewhat...amused (not quite amused, but I am uncertain as to the word to describe it) words and their pull on people. As had been previously mentioned elsewhere (I believe in another blog), words are not sufficient enough to truly convey what we mean to say. There is always that break in communication that comes with interpretation. Still, in manipulating words, one also, in the process, manipulates people.

Because I was already more inclined towards Mayr's opinions when it comes to theories about the beginning/creation (when given the theories of evolution and creationism, I would jump with evolution), I suppose I missed the effect/manipulation (if any) his words may have had on someone with a different school of thought. I am interested about that, though--is there anyone who does not necessarily believe evolution to be the "correct"--or, if it makes you feel more comfortable, "less wrong"--theory--who would be willing to share what they thought about Mayr's book, argument-wise?



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