John Farrell: Bad Faith (in Science): Darwin as All-Purpose Boogey Man?

by Robinson

The claim that Darwin was an enthusiastic supporter of the term “survival of the fittest” fares no better. Denis Alexander’s point in the video West cites is entirely correct. In fact, Darwin’s younger colleague Alfred Russel Wallace, who for religious reasons was a more vociferous proponent of man’s special status in the order of nature, was also a more enthusiastic proponent of “survival of the fittest” in the scientific literature. But Darwin did not want the distinction between artificial and natural selection to be blurred, so he was very careful about how often the term “fittest” should be employed.

No doubt this is an historical detail that West does not want to get in the way of a good talking point. A more scholarly treatment of how ideology abuses science can be found in Biology and Ideology: From Descartes to Dawkins, a collection of historical essays edited by Alexander and Ronald Numbers.

Another book on the Amazon Wishlist.