Happy Darwin Day!


Get out and celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of one of the most important scientists of all time, Charles Darwin, and the 150th anniversary of the publication of one of the most important books in biology, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. It’s that day!

I’m in Minnesota, and you have a couple of options here. The Bell Museum in Minneapolis is having a party!

Darwin Day Party
Thursday, February 12, 2009, 7 to 9 p.m.
Bell Museum Auditorium
$10/ free to museum members and University students

The speakers will present in the auditorium from 7 to 8 pm. Birthday cake and refreshments are served after the presentations.

Celebrate the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birthday! Part of a world wide celebration, the Twin Cities’ version is at The Bell Museum of Natural History this Thursday night. Join in the fun with cake, drinks and presentations by U of M scientists and educators. They will present funny, outrageous and controversial rapid-fire, media-rich presentations about Darwin and evolution. From the big bang to the human genome, hear the newest research and controversy on evolution and Darwin.

I’m rather far from Minneapolis, unfortunately — if you live in the west central part of the state, or the eastern part of the Dakotas, we’re having an open lecture here at the University of Minnesota Morris. Nic McPhee of the computer science discipline and PZ Myers of biology will be talking about “Paths to Complexity: How Biology and Computation can Build Intricate Processes and Systems” — it’s a kind of anti-intelligent-design talk that focuses on the amazing stuff we do know about how chance and selection can build complex systems and efficient solutions.

We’ll be on the UMM campus in HFA 6, at 5pm this evening. No charge, but come early — we expect to fill the joint up. If you can’t make it, it is going to be recorded and a podcast made available later.


  1. says

    Happy Darwin Day! I’m current reading The Origin of Species because it seems like the thing to do. He’s a wordy fellow, that Chuck Darwin is, but I sense that he’s heading somewhere…

  2. says

    In a day bogged down by meetings, I managed to slip “Darwin Day celebrations” in as part of the agenda.

    In the words of today’s *other* 200th Birthday Boy: “Be most excellent to each other, and PARTY ON DUDES!

  3. Steve says

    Please post a link to the podcast once it’s available. Those of us east of the Mississippi won’t be able to attend in person. Thanks, and Happy Darwin Day!

  4. LisaJ says

    Happy Darwin Day! Great pic PZ. Our little Charlie is really growing up.

    I’ll be celebrating today by learning about neural circuitry, and dissecting some mouse brains. Seems relatively fitting.

  5. says

    For those people who want to indulge themselves in a Darwin marathon today, the BBC’s seven-episode series, The Voyage of Charles Darwin, is available as a playlist on YouTube.

    Advisory: Adult themes and incidental nudity (some of it human).

  6. Daniel says

    Happy Darwin Day! I wish there were something interesting going on in my my area but alas, there isn’t. Maybe I’ll host my own last-minute phylum party!

  7. says

    Happ Darwin Day indeed. I’m away this evening to celebrate with Tim Minchin in Leicester, UK. I didn’t realise it was Darwin Day when I bought the tickets but I couldn’t have picked a better day to see him. Have fun everyone.

  8. notacrook says

    Christmas has Xmas so Darwin day Shalt henceforth be called D-Day (has that already been taken?)

    Anyway, happy D-Day!!

  9. Benjamin Geiger says

    Any chance of getting video of this event? It’s tough to travel from Florida to Minnesota quickly…

    Oh, and Happy Monkey!

  10. Jon says

    Happy Darwin Day!

    Over here in the UK [smug]where we have Darwin on our bank notes[/smug] Google.co.uk has gone all Darwinesque with a special logo that links to a “carles darwin” search. Sadly I see Google.com has the normal logo – I guess they’re worried about upsetting the Fundies!

  11. J says

    *I’m current reading The Origin of Species because it seems like the thing to do. He’s a wordy fellow, that Chuck Darwin is, but I sense that he’s heading somewhere…*

    Good fer you. If it gets to be tough going, try “Voyage of the Beagle”. It’s a much more readable and accessible “entre” to Darwin.

  12. Ryan says

    One of my distant relatives is one Sir Francis Beaufort, the officer that took to heart Fitzroy’s request “that a well-educated and scientific gentleman be sought” for the Beagle’s second voyage.

    Poor guy couldn’t even begin to imagine the ruckus he caused, adding “Charles Robert Darwin” to the passenger manifest.

  13. says

    I count myself lucky to be alive on such a large-round-number day. I’m stuck at my desk all day, but at least there’s a lecture series on Darwin going on at the university that I’ll be attending this year.

    And hey, props for using the non-bearded Darwin today. I’m sure that’s not an accident.

    Happy Darwin Day, everyone–and many more.

  14. says

    Oh… I’ll be at Daniel Dennett’s talk for Darwin Day–if any Pharyngulites are going, I’ll see you there.

    Of course, being the chameleonesque Cuttlefish, you won’t see me…

  15. Cappy says

    Happy Monkey! I hope the day flings something good your way.

    That Lincoln was OK, too. No obsessive xtianist wanker he.

  16. 'Tis Himself says

    Happy birthdays to you,
    Happy birthdays to you,
    Happy birthdays, Dear Charles and Abraham,
    Happy birthdays to you!

    (Okay, it doesn’t scan. Oh well.)

  17. Kristin says

    PZ – I thought you said you were going to be one of the presenters at the Bell Museum event…. Did something change, or did I misinterpret your last post? I was looking forward to a Mpls visit so I could learn about your work!

    PS: Happy Day.

  18. says

    Happy Darwin Day indeed. Who’d have thought that working out how coral reefs formed could be the basis for such events.

    Wait. You mean he discovered other stuff too? Crikey! ;)

  19. gracchus says

    Interesting that neither of these two famous men born on the same day in 1809 were conventionally religious.

  20. Lana says

    Thanks to all who made menu suggestions on another thread. But it turns out I’m working late so my husband will be making dinner and he’s not as holiday minded as I am. But we’ll probably open a bottle of Monkey Bay wine.

  21. EMUAlgaeGirl says

    I brought my bio class cupcakes! They’re going to be HS biology teachers, so I thought it was important that they see that historical events in science can be fun. Cupcakes makes everything more fun!

  22. Holbach says

    Happy Birthday to one of my favorite heroes, Charles Darwin, and to the other hero also, Abraham Lincoln.
    Thanks for coming by.

  23. clinteas says

    Voyage of the Beagle sounds like a good read for the nudebeach,might pop into Borders and grab a copy tomorrow…;)

    I figure “Origin” is a bit outdated these days and more interesting from a historical point of view.
    Of course the Creobots dont realize that and try to make Darwin into some god the atheists worship.Its stupid and its wrong.Dickheads.

  24. Heather says

    Happy Darwin Day! Too bad my husband was born 2/11, one day to early to have the claim of sharing Darwin’s b-day. He (the husband) turned 40 yesterday and started off the day by getting bit by a spider that was hiding in his biking shorts. I’ve waited 24 hours to see if he would get some cool special spider powers, but so far nothing. Bummer. I’m sure if he had been born on 2/12, he would have had the luck to get bit by a really cool genetically modified spider, but no….he had to be born on the 11th and screw everything up.

  25. Carlie says

    #19, ours does too. We just hit the turnover time later than you, what with the earth being a globe and all. :)

  26. says

    Happy Darwin Day.

    I can’t make the day itself regrettably, but happenstance has me In London next week so I’ve made plans to visit the Natural History Museum in London, the Darwin exhibit there, and Darwin’s grave in Westminster Abbey.

  27. says

    As an earlier poster has already noted: shame on google.com for not running the Darwin branding that’s appearing outside the US.

    google.co.uk, google.fr, google.ca – to name but a few all have a Darwinised logo. Can’t say the same for google.com.au – it’s already tomorrow as I write…

  28. Clintsc9 says

    Happy Darwin Day to all those still celebrating. It is all over here.
    Have we got a name for the following day – that other mob has Boxing Day, to celebrate fistfights or something.

    This year Friday the 13th. Uh Oh.

  29. J.D. Hutton says

    I’ll be having a traditional Darwin Day feast: you eat as many different species as you possibly can.

    Happy Dawrin Day everyone!
    Happy Monkey!

  30. Kevin Schreck says

    I’m disappointed that I can’t go to any of the Darwin Day festivities in my hometown of Minneapolis. I’m at my college in rural New York right now, and there are no official Darwin Day celebrations taking place here.

    However, I am hosting a screening of “The Genius of Charles Darwin” here on a big screen for all to see on his birthday tonight.

    Happy Darwin Day!

  31. Ateapotist says

    Stop the presses! Google.com DOES have a Darwin-themed logo. It’s a Galapagos theme with finches and what look to be flowers that spell “Google”. If you mouse over the logo, it explains that today is Chuckie D’s 200th birthday.

  32. Nec_V20 says

    Although it may be happy Darwin day most of you lost out on the chance of over a millennium ten years ago.

    What am I talking about? “Happy Odd Day” of course; on 19/11/1999 it was the last time that all the numbers of the date would be odd until 11/11/3111.

    All the techies got together and we got absolutely shit-faced all the while wishing everyone around us “Happy Odd Day” to bemused and dazed expressions.

    But is God odd as in the Old Testament or more even tempered as in the New Testament and above all is he real until declared integer?

    (He exits stage left covered with enough veg to keep a vegan – or as I like to call them “The culinary Waffen-SS” – satiated for a year).

  33. says


    my dear colleague and successor in the endeavour of biological science,

    let me on this day of your great anniversary congratulate you on the success of your work, of which I am a great admirer. All the good which continues to result from it makes me proud, yet humble, of having laid some of the foundation for it.

    May your enemies perish!

    In your service,
    Carl v. Linné

    Uppsala, 2008

  34. Richbank says

    Happy Darwin Day to all!
    I had the pleasure of attending two lectures in honor of Darwin presented by Drs. Eörs Szathmáry and Dan Tawfik on “darwin for all seasons” and “The unbearable ease of protein evolution”, respectively. I love biology!


  35. Sili says

    Happy Abe!

    (Conveniently “abe” is Danish for ape and monkey – we don’t bother much with details.)

  36. says

    We need some Darwin Day traditions and party games! I suggest making bird-shaped cookies on a string and knocking them out of the air with a stick. Or an Origin of Species drinking game: if you can’t read a whole sentence without taking a breath, you have to take a drink and try the next sentence.

  37. breakingnews says

    AP: Special US court rules out vaccines as cause of autism, neurological disorders in children.

  38. says

    Down at the market today a man, obviously a creationist, greeted me with “Happy Holidays!” Will the War on Darwin Day never end?

    Cuttlefish @29,

    Of course, being the chameleonesque Cuttlefish, you won’t see me…

    B-b-b-but, I’m not the chameleonlike Cuttlefish, you are!

    Or is this one of those zen wisdom things: each of us must look inside him- or herself to find the Cuttlefish within, albeit apparently at the cost of losing one’s eyesight?

    Oh, and yeah: HAPPAPPY DARWIN DAAY!

    (Sorry, some of those elements accidentally got duplicated. I thought of cleaning them up, but then decided to leave them be; who knows, they might just mutate into something useful.)

  39. says

    The Lincoln-Darwin link

    Besides having been born on the same day in the same year, I have found some interesting information about Lincoln’s views on religion and evolutionary theory.

    According to columnist Michael LInd, Lincoln ” … refused to join a Christian church, [who] was described by friends as “an avowed and open infidel,” [who] had written a book mocking the miracles in the Bible, [who] described evangelical voters as “priest-ridden,” and was a “warm advocate” of evolutionary theory … “

    Happy Darwin’s/Lincoln’s birthday.

  40. SEF says

    Getting out isn’t such a great idea when about to be snowed in again!

    I did manage to make the trek to the Post Office to get some special Darwin stamps (UK not US) though; but I was then getting rained/sleeted/snowed on by the time I got the card and cheque off for my sponsor children among the currently less-favoured races. A word which of course meant something different (ie species) back in Darwin’s day/circle! I’m attempting to mitigate the unfair personal disadvantages these children have had heaped upon them by life, which have nothing to do with their individual fitness as members of the species. Contrary to creationist canard, being a “Darwinist” doesn’t mean regarding all selection as necessarily a good thing™, since “is” is not equal to “ought”.

    And now I shall return to my usual hermit status …

  41. Magnus says

    Gratulerer med dagen Darwin!

    I picked up Origin earlier today and plan on spending most of the day reading it.

  42. Knockgotts says

    The Church of England at their General Synod came up with some ideas to counteract the bus campaign
    Happy heathens don’t exist
    Was the best they come up with
    – Adam Miller

    Well, why abandon the good old Christian tradition of Lying for Jesus?

    Unfortunately I had to miss the Darwin Day seminar at my place of work for a hospital appointment (nothing serious, just a skin test for allergies). Still Happy Darwin Day!

  43. SEF says

    props for using the non-bearded Darwin today

    He was even less bearded than that when he was actually born, ie on his birth-day.

  44. IST says

    Will E> Let me know how it is.. I’d love to go but have to coach a basketball game at 530… I know we won’t be done in time for me to get over there.

  45. says

    Mrs. Tilton @ #74–

    I actually did notice that, and briefly thought of changing to passive voice in order to resolve the sentence (“…I will not be seen by you.”) just for fun, but thought instead to let fellow Grammar Police be happy monkeys.

  46. Mosasaurus rex says

    happy birthday to you
    happy birthday to you
    happy birthday dear Charlie
    happy birthday to yoooouuuuuu!

  47. IceFarmer says

    HAPPY DARWIN DAY EVERYONE! Let good science and free thought prevail!

    And for those of you in the U.S. Happy Lincoln’s Birthday!

    INTERESTED IN READING THE ORIGIN THIS YEAR and don’t have the time to go out and buy one? You can download a copy to your iphone or computer from EREADER.COM. It’s the 6th Ed and it’s free!

  48. says

    When is Paley day?

    And you know, the DI is trying to make this “academic freedom” day, by pushing stuff like this:

    If a theory claims to be able to explain some phenomenon but does not generate even an attempt at an explanation, then it should be banished. Despite comparing sequences and mathematical modeling, molecular evolution has never addressed the question of how complex structures came to be. In effect, the theory of Darwinian molecular evolution has not published, and so it should perish. Michael J. Behe, Darwin’s Black Box, p.186

    I know, repeat, but the only thing I like about them is their propensity for blasting their feet off with their anti-Darwinism shotguns.

    Glen D

  49. AnthonyK says

    Happy Darwin Dei!
    Let’s hope those underevolved Christians don’t try to steal our secular celebrations.
    Still, it’s not as if they can seriously question Charlie’s discovery or influence, eh? Not after 150 years anyway.

    Nothing has tended more to retard the advancement of science than the disposition in vulgar minds to vilify what they cannot comprehend. Samuel Johnson 1894

  50. Desert Son says

    Happy Darwin Day!

    And Happy Birthday to Abraham Lincoln!

    Here’s to more moments of science!

    No kings,


  51. avninja says

    I am wondering if any wingnuts have complained about the Darwin Themed Google, being it is also Lincolns B-Day. Then again they seem to hate Lincoln too.

  52. Flori-DUH Rob says


    The folks at Fox and Friends had their panties in a bind this morning with Google affording Darwin more ‘respect’ than Lincoln.

  53. AnthonyK says

    Oh no! I stand corrected!
    A scientistical expert called Casey Luskin has published an op-ed somewhere which says that I am mistaken:
    Apparently, “Darwin Day” should really be “Academic Freedon Day”; and Darwin’s theory is full of holes.
    Well, I am shocked. Time to change my mind.
    Sorry to let you down, on this of all days. What can we talk about know.
    Presuppostional apologetics, say I.
    At least that’s a topic that can never grow stale.

  54. says

    For those disappointed in missing PZ on Darwin Day, Minnesota Atheists will be hosting a panel discussion including PZ Myers, Randy Moore, Greg Laden, Sehoya Cotner, and Jane Phillips. It’s at the Rondo Community Outreach Library in Saint Paul at 2 PM. Don’t miss it!

    Bring your kids to the Science Museum on February 14 from 1 to 4 for fun Darwin Day related activities!

  55. Martha says

    Why do you idiots celebrate the birth of a dead theorist? He hasn’t proven anything, yet you all worship him anyway.

  56. says

    The folks at Fox and Friends had their panties in a bind this morning with Google affording Darwin more ‘respect’ than Lincoln.

    Well, I for one am sick, sick of this War on Darwin Day.

    Happy Monkey to all.

  57. Matt says

    salt, Ive read Fred Reed, he’s a hoot sometimes. I didnt get too far on that article though. He sold it as on evolution, then started attacking evolution because it doesnt address how life began on earth.

    Suppose I should write to Mr. Reed, but the theory of evolution doesnt claim to explain that. You know this too, right?

  58. Nerd of Redhead, OM says

    Martha, you worship an imaginry deity. We admire Darwin, and honor him for his accomplishments, but we do not worship him. Why do you and other godbots keep lying?

  59. Monika Kress says

    I am going to do a lecture on entropy, the 2nd law, and evolution for my thermodynamics class today. I will post it on a public website if anyone is interested.

  60. cactusren says

    I hadn’t realized the Botanical Gardens in St. Louis were celebrating Darwin Day…that’s excellent news. Though I already have plans to have some friends over for cake and general celebration. Perhaps some readings from The Origin, too.

    Happy Monkey everyone!

  61. AnthonyK says

    Why do you idiots celebrate the birth of a dead theorist? He hasn’t proven anything, yet you all worship him anyway

    Yay! First Moron!
    You know “worship” does have a real-world meaning. It’s more than “admire” or “venerate”, it means “praise as gods; thank for ethereal blessings”.
    Now come on, we don’t do that. Quite apart from anything else we admit he is dead, and concede that he was not entirely correct. That’s because he was “human”, you dry-lipped scumbag.
    This is our day to celebrate the insights of rationalism and science.
    And a channce to ponder the wasteland of ingorance some of our fellows inhabit.
    Like you Martha.
    Fuck off, there’s a good girl.

  62. says

    An atheist on evolution – Fred Reed

    oh goody, salt is back.

    What’s the point of that article salt? That some atheist dare to spew his ignorance on evolution?

    Ok. Yippie.

  63. Mariana says

    Happy Darwin Day!

    And happy monkey!

    My daughter and I have just decided we are going out for a celebratory banana split, as it is a very hot day.

  64. says

    Why do you idiots celebrate the birth of a dead theorist? He hasn’t proven anything, yet you all worship him anyway.

    Martha calling us idiots.

    Hilarious. While some of us may be idiots, judging by your comments here we’re collectively the upper echelon of Mensa in comparison to you, Martha.

  65. Damian says

    That “article” by Fred Reed is hilarious. It is indeed true that the science of abiogenesis is still rather patchy, although there is lots of interesting work happening right now.

    It was inevitably going to be more difficult to explain how life began, considering that it is likely to have been a single event (it may well have happened more than once). But to fool people in to believing that the article is about evolution (with the use of “evolutionists” throughout), and yet only talk about abiogenesis, is either a sign of enormous incompetence, or willful deceit: pick one, but neither makes him look very intelligent.


  66. senecasam says

    Attended a Darwin Day event at Clemson University earlier today. Also planning on hearing a couple of speakers on campus over the next three days.

    Happy Darwin Day!

    Also, had the opportunity to engage a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses at my door this morning. When I asked the nice lady if she was a mother, and she said that she was, I asked her if she would refuse to allow a blood transfusion for her child to save its life. She started spinning some crap, but I asked her to just answer the question – would you let your child die to satisfy your father in the sky – yes or no. She just wouldn’t answer the question. I went inside. They left.

    Happy Monkey.

    A couple of noteworthy personal appearances:

    Dan Barker, co-prez of the Freedom From Religion Foundation will debate Kyle Butt of Apologetics Press at the Russell House Ballroom, Univ. of South Carolina, Columbia SC Thursday (2/12) 7 PM, sponsored by the Pastafarians at USC. This event is free, and open to the public.

    Dan will also be in Charleston SC, Sunday (2/15), 4 pm, Gage Hall (4 Archdale St), addressing the Secular Humanists of the Low Country. Refreshments will be served, event is free and open to the public.

  67. Damian says

    By the way, Dawkins has reviewed Jerry Coyne’s new book, “Why Evolution is True”.

    This bit tickled me:

    How can you say that evolution is “true”? Isn’t that just your opinion, of no more value than anybody else’s? Isn’t every view entitled to equal “respect”? Maybe so where the issue is one of, say, musical taste or political judgement. But when it is a matter of scientific fact? Unfortunately, scientists do receive such relativistic protests when they dare to claim that something is factually true in the real world. Given the title of Jerry Coyne’s book, this is a distraction that I must deal with. A scientist arrogantly asserts that thunder is not the triumphal sound of God’s balls banging together, nor is it Thor’s hammer. It is, instead, the reverberating echoes from the electrical discharges that we see as lightning. Poetic (or at least stirring) as those tribal myths may be, they are not actually true.

  68. says

    I think it is great that two of the greatest men in the history of our planet happened to share a birthday. One freed us all from the brutality of slavery. The other freed our minds from the hold of using religious belief in place of science.

  69. Leslie in Canada says

    From the Great White North, a Happy Darwin Day to all as we celebrate the man who turned on the lights.

    Happy monkey!

  70. Ray Ladbury says

    Martha, post #98: I really feel sorry for you that you cannot appreciate the achievements of one of the great minds of modern times. One of the great feelings one can have in life is for the world to suddenly make sense–to suddenly understand what before seemed to be confusion. You have chosen to turn your back on that experience. Have you ever asked yourself, why, if there were a God behind the Universe, he would want you to remain ignorant of how it works?

  71. Salt says

    Posted by: Matt | February 12, 2009 12:00 PM
    salt, Ive read Fred Reed, he’s a hoot sometimes… He sold it as on evolution, then started attacking evolution because it doesnt address how life began on earth..

    Suppose I should write to Mr. Reed, but the theory of evolution doesnt claim to explain that. You know this too, right?

    So I am led to believe. I do not read him as attacking evolution but merely chastising those who hold it as Holy Writ. As fred variously observes –

    Third, evolutionists are obsessed by Christianity and Creationism, with which they imagine themselves to be in mortal combat. … Nobody [pays attention to Creationism] – except evolutionists. We are dealing with competing religions – overarching explanations of origin and destiny. Thus the fury of their response to skepticism.

    This is the behavior not of scientists, but of advocates, of True Believers.But don’t expect me to accept fluid speculation, sloppy logic, and secular theology.”

    Ain’t he a hoot?

    I hope you all have an excellent St. Darwin’s Day. I actually do prefer it to St. Lincoln’s Day.

  72. Sven DiMilo says

    Nobody [pays attention to Creationism] – except evolutionists.

    That’s just stupid. Local school boards and statre standards committees pay it too much attention. That’s the whole reason it’s an issue. If creationists kept their bullshit in their churches then “evolutionists” wouldn’t pay attention to creationism either. Dumbass.

  73. Salt says

    Posted by: Rev. BigDumbChimp | February 12, 2009 12:08 PM
    oh goody, salt is back.

    I’m always lurking. It’s just rare for there to be anything of value to respond to.

  74. Holbach says

    I have three pictures of Charles Darwin on my wall;
    The one pictured here, the one of him when he published “On the Origin”, and the one of him in old age with the full beard, black hat and full cape. A full life, and a life fulfilled for us. Good man.
    And right next to Charles, are five photos of Abe, all beardless. Good man.

  75. Salt says

    Posted by: Sven DiMilo | February 12, 2009 1:24 PM
    Nobody [pays attention to Creationism] – except evolutionists.
    That’s just stupid. Local school boards and statre standards committees pay it too much attention. Dumbass.

    If you’d read Fred, you’d know just whom his use of “nobody” refers to.

    Dumbass, indeed.

  76. AnthonyK says

    I’m always lurking. It’s just rare for there to be anything of value to respond to.

    Quite so. Nothing to see here. Move on.

  77. Knockgoats says

    I think it is great that two of the greatest men in the history of our planet happened to share a birthday. One freed us all from the brutality of slavery. – Tom

    Well, not exactly, unless “us all” just means US citizens/residents. The USA was neither the first nor the last to legally abolish slavery; and unfortunately, although legally abolished everywhere IIRC, it still continues.

  78. Matt says

    >>>merely chastising those who hold it as Holy Writ

    And you or Fred can provide us of an example of one of those where?

    >>>We are dealing with competing religions – overarching explanations of origin and destiny.

    Not really. Evolutionists have actual evidence supporting their claims. Religion, in its proper definition, not the false one Fred provides, not so much.

    Now, scientists are often wrong. New things are learned, contradicting evidence is discovered. Long held theories are sometimes disproven, discarded, and replaced.

    For the record, salt, abiogenesis and evolution are not the same thing, nor are they buttressed on an equivalent evidential foundation. Science is not done on these topics, but this is not evidence against what is known.

  79. Sven DiMilo says

    It’s true; I didn’t read Fred.
    Pardon me for assuming that “Nobody except evolutionists” meant what the words mean.

  80. Salt says

    Posted by: Matt | February 12, 2009 1:38 PM
    For the record, salt, abiogenesis and evolution are not the same thing, nor are they buttressed on an equivalent evidential foundation. Science is not done on these topics, but this is not evidence against what is known.

    I agree. Fred is picking on the fanatical element within the evolution – atheist camp. No different from atheists picking on the fundie christian. I think Fred merely has a better perspective on approaching the two versus being in either camp.

  81. Knockgoats says

    Evolution breaks down into at least three logically separable components: First, that life arose by chemical accident; second, that it then evolved into the life we see today; and third, that the mechanism was the accretion of chance mutations. Evolutionists, not particularly logical, refuse to see this separability. – Fred Reed, from Salt’s link.

    Those who deal in human evolution usually hold The Bell Curve in high regard. – Fred Reed, from Salt’s link.

    Conclusion: Fred Reed is an ignorant moron, or a barefaced liar. What a surprise that someone as erudite as Salt should take him seriously.

  82. azqaz says

    Well, in honor of Mr Darwin I went to Project Gutenberg, downloaded the 6th edition of “On the Origin of Species”, printed out Chapter IV – Natural Selection, and read it over lunch.

    Several people upthread mentioned that it would be more beneficial as a history piece rather than a science experience, but I am once again in awe of how much he DID get right.

  83. says

    I’ve seen a few Fred Reed columns before – he’s sometimes quite good, but that particular one Salt linked to is despicable. Apart from anything else, there’s the following racist nonsense:

    Reed: Black sub-Saharan Africans (say many evolutionists) have a mean IQ somewhere near 70, live in wretched poverty, and breed enthusiastically. White Europeans, reasonably bright at IQ 100 and quite prosperous, are losing population. Jews, very bright indeed at a mean IQ of 115 and very prosperous, are positively scarce, always have been, and seem to be losing ground. From this I conclude either that (a) intelligence does not increase fitness or (b) reproduction is inversely proportional to fitness.

    From the context, I can’t quite work out whether he’s actually endorsing these racist nostrums, or accusing evolutionists of believing them. I hope the latter, but even so, it’s still nonsense.

    And he also conflates abiogenesis with evolution. As far as I (a non-biologist) understand it, the two things are separate, and there is much more evidence regarding the latter than the former. He therefore attacks a straw-man form of evolutionism.

    I like Lew Rockwell a lot, but occasionally his website publishes absurd things from cranks.

  84. says

    Apologies – just realised that Matt (supra) already picked up on Reed’s failure to recognise the abiogenesis-evolution distinction.

    The pertinent quote from the article:

    Reed: Evolution breaks down into at least three logically separable components: First, that life arose by chemical accident; second, that it then evolved into the life we see today; and third, that the mechanism was the accretion of chance mutations. Evolutionists, not particularly logical, refuse to see this separability… The first, chance formation of life, simply hasn’t been established. It isn’t science, but faith.

    Surely the assertion that “life arose by chemical accident” is abiogenesis, not evolution?

  85. Holbach says

    Walton @ 139

    Where’s the argument? For you, it was neither evolution or abiogenesis. Your god did it. End of argument and speculation.

  86. Ray says

    I plan to attend a talk tonight by John M. Lynch of Arizona State University (aka http://scienceblogs.com/strangerfruit/)at the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History in on the OU campus in Norman, OK. Sounds interesting and as I am here temporarily for another few days for training classes for my job it gives me something to do. I am bummed out that I will miss Richard Dawkins visit early next month though!

    Cheers, Happy Darwin Day & Happy Monkey!,

  87. Damian says

    Surely the assertion that “life arose by chemical accident” is abiogenesis, not evolution?

    If that was an accurate description of abiogenesis, it would be.

    Basically, the entire diatribe can be described as the rantings of an ignoramus.

    Evolutionists, not particularly logical, refuse to see this separability.

    Oh the irony! He hasn’t even bothered to evaluate or rebut a single line of evidence, but has the cheek to smear all “evolutionists” for being “not particularly logical”. Silly man.

  88. aratina says

    Happy Darwin Day!

    I feel extremely fortunate to be alive at a time when we can definitively say there is no god, no creator, and no ultimate authority directing our lives. I’m also thankful for Abraham Lincoln’s smackdown of the South and freeing of the slaves. The celebration of both evolution and civil rights has never felt so good as it does on this bicentennial.

  89. Matt says

    aratina, you said the following with no apparent irony

    >>>no ultimate authority directing our lives. I’m also thankful for Abraham Lincoln’s smackdown of the South and freeing of the slaves.

    Lincoln increased authority in all Americans lives. Perhaps you never learned that he suspended Habeus corpus when it suited him.

    Though perhaps necessary in this case, most nations got rid of slavery without war. Lincoln was more than willing to compromise on this topic, read his inaugural speech. The South obviously takes much of the blame here, but If Lincoln were the myth instead of just the man, perhaps America could’ve ended the peculiar institution on more peaceful ground too.

  90. salt says

    Posted by: Matt | February 12, 2009 2:50 PM
    The South obviously takes much of the blame here

    Blame for what?

  91. Rey Fox says

    Happy Monkey!

    “Why do you idiots celebrate the birth of a dead theorist? He hasn’t proven anything, yet you all worship him anyway.”

    Mostly, we do it to piss off small-minded folks like you.

  92. says

    Happy Charles Darwin Day! Today and everyday, may your curiosity, reason and intelligence lead you to shake off the chains of dogma, faith and ignorance.

  93. Mena says

    Nothing in Chicago, Minneapolis would probably be the closest for me. :^(
    The husband may go for cake at a library annex in Saskatoon. Yes, there’s something going on in a town of about 250k but not 3 million with suburbs containing millions more people. What’s up with that?!?!?

  94. Fred Mounts says

    When is Walton going to evolve into something that doesn’t annoy the piss out of me? The creobots are fine; they’re too stupid to worry about, but Walton thinks himself logical to a degree that the others don’t. I suppose I’m saying that he certainly knows how to put words together, but the result is always something incredibly stooopid.

  95. says


    You just destroyed your thesis that Lincoln could have avoided the Civil War and ended the institution of slavery without violence if only he was more…something.


  96. Matt says

    True, the south began aggression even before Lincoln took office. As I said, the south takes much, most, of the blame for the war for this. My objection is that oft repeated lazy assertion that Lincoln went to war to free the slaves. He did not. Lincoln was great, but im not sure he fully considered other paths to emancipation before he began his Pres. campaign. Its well documented he was quite willing to accept a North/South compromise on slavery. How did other countries manage to cease slavery without war? Did he consider a preemptive bailout for the plantation owners?

  97. says

    Anyone in the Philadelphia area is invited to my Darwin Day party. I don’t know how it’ll start, but it is sure to evolve into something interesing.

  98. says

    “How did other countries manage to cease slavery without war?”

    Those countries did not have to deal with millions of traitorous Southern skunks willing kill to keep “their property.”

    You are right in saying that Lincoln did not go to war to end slavery. You are wrong to say that he is somehow diminished because he could not avoid a war thrust upon him by treasonous Southern slaveholders. There were no “other paths ti emancipation.” None. Not one. It was allow the slave states to keep their slaves, and allow the expansion of slavery into the the Western territories, and force Northern states to return run-away slaves or nothing. It’s not his fault that half the country was too fucked intellectually to embrace enlightenment ideals of liberty and equality. That was the hand he was dealt by history.

    Lincoln had many real faults. That’s ’cause he was a 1800s, American, male, “white,” human. Not avoiding the violence of the Civil War was NOT one of them.

  99. Ben Breuer says

    Happy Darwin Day !!!

    I’m in Pittsburgh, and planning to saunter down to Church Brew Works (Liberty Ave.) around 7:30 with a few friends for a few beers. Anyone joining? Look for a mildly sartorially challenged German with a ponytail. Or send me a note at bbreuer@gmail.

  100. aratina says

    Matt, who exactly did Lincoln suspend habeas corpus for again? :P If you want to get mad about that, look at our last president’s record. Yes, Lincoln was great; one of our least religious presidents and possibly our second gay president. Happy Monkey!

  101. Eric says

    Happy Darwin Day from all of us who are Christians, opponents of ID, and advocates for evolution!

  102. nemryn says

    Hooray for Darwin! The student movie theater at my university had Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial yesterday, and they’re showing something called Darwin’s Nightmare today. Should I be worried about that second one? It doesn’t sound too promising…

  103. Jeff says

    I brought in a gigantic cake and donuts to work. I also wore my Happy Darwin Day sweatshirt!

    A great day indeed!

  104. says

    Matt @156,

    your side — the side that chose treason and war in an effort to preserve a system that made humans into chattel — had its arse handed to it nearly 150 years ago. Time to move on.

  105. Pierce R. Butler says

    Our friends at the Institute for Creation Research are rejoicing this frabjous day with a press release (not yet in the sadly neglected press section of icr.org):

    … “Celebrate” is an understatement; “worship” better describes the veneration given to the man who popularized the notion that God had nothing to do with the origin or development of the universe and all it contains.

    “Notion” is an appropriate description; “theory” is too generous. For the philosophy of science called “evolution” is just that–a philosophical system of belief that cannot be substantiated by any observable evidence, either in action today or through nature’s record of the past.

    … “The Vanishing Case for Evolution,” which succinctly lays out overwhelming evidence–using the words of evolution’s most ardent purveyors–that slams the door on Darwin’s inventive story of origins by accident.

    … February is also Black History Month in the United States. So, while African-Americans are celebrating those who bravely fought for their equality in society, scientists around the world are celebrating the man who sought to demonstrate the inferiority of certain races by declaring them to be less than human.

    … the danger of Darwin’s philosophy of evolution is seen in the erosion of sound science education and an alarming increase in lobbying efforts to curb critical thinking skills in the classroom. More and more state legislatures are wrestling with science education standards and finding that atheist organizations are pushing to eliminate any mention of evolution’s weaknesses in school.

    …Dr. Steve Austin’s account of his recent research project in Argentina for ICR’s National Creation Science Foundation. It was there, along the Santa Cruz River, that Charles Darwin made his first wrong turn in science. Also, Dr. Danny Faulkner discusses the bankrupt concepts of evolution-based astronomy. …

    Read the special Darwin issue Acts & Facts.

    Yep, what’s in the ellipses is as bad as what you just read.

  106. says

    To end this day I think I’ll go over to conservapedia and try and mention all the things wrong with their Darwin/Evolution articles. Of course these will have to be just comments on the talk page, they long ago locked all these pages to keep the blatant vandalism that they call their data to be fixed.

  107. Pierce R. Butler says

    A handful of choice nuggets from the “bankrupt concepts of evolution-based astronomy” piece of the motherlode of madness cited in # 170:

    … The second misconception is that evolution applies only to biology. The first inroads of evolutionary thinking occurred in geology decades before the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. This introduced the concept of uniformitarianism…

    … the Big Bang does not conform to the Genesis account of creation…

    As with any evolutionary theory, these are attempts to explain the world apart from a Creator. …

    … there is some debate today whether galaxies formed first and then subdivided into stars, or if stars formed first and then amalgamated into galaxies. …

    Astronomers think that stars generally produce energy in their cores by the fusion of hydrogen into helium, and there is some evidence to support this theory. …

    Most of astronomy deals with the structure of the universe as it now exists, and creation scientists are fully engaged in these studies.

    … what we know of the mechanism driving the tidal interaction of the earth-moon system and the current rate of that interaction suggests that the earth-moon system can be no older than 1.3 billion years. Of course, this is far younger than the supposed 4.6-billion-year age of the earth-moon system, but it is not a problem for a 6,000-year-old creation.

  108. says

    Lincoln and the suspension of habeas corpus

    Most people do not know that two slave states remained in the Union: Kentucky and Maryland. Kentucky for various reasons, one in particular a realistic prediction of who the winner would be, and Maryland because it was occupied by Federal Troops. At the beginning of the war Union troops were attacked by angry mobs in Maryland while they marched to Virginia. Lincoln deported a Kentucky politician to the Confederacy during the war. Try to imagine The capital of Israel at the edge of the West Bank. Oh, wait a second, it is at the edge of the West Bank. That was Washington D.C. during the Civil War, only more so. There were also Southern sympathizers in New York City (a big garment industry city at the time) and a movement in California for neutrality. The Guerilla war that started in Kansas before the war intensified. You get the idea.

  109. SteadyEddy says

    PZ… we missed you at the Bell… wish you could have made it. They did give you the credit for the idea of taking advantage of this “teachable moment” and designing tonight’s celebration. Happy Darwin Day- officially designated by both (democratic) mayors in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

  110. Adam Cuerden says

    Is having set up the PCR of four genes of Anguillocoides crassus (a parasite of eels causing problems in Europe) for the class I’m taking in Genomics a good celebration? Sadly, I’m in Group A, so the Engrailed practical of my Developmental biology class is next week.

  111. Knockgoats says

    Though perhaps necessary in this case, most nations got rid of slavery without war. Lincoln was more than willing to compromise on this topic, read his inaugural speech. – Matt

    You are of course right that Lincoln went to war to preserve the union, not to end slavery. However, the southern USA – most of all, Virginia – was unusual among countries with slavery in the extent to which it was central to the economy, and in its ability to generate natural increase in the slave population (see slavery in the United States). The number of slaves in the USA had increased from under 1m at independence to over 4m in 1860, and slavery was highly profitable to the slaveowners. This was closely connected with the British conquest of India, which enabled the nascent British cotton-weaving industry to replace hand-loom produced Indian cloth, and generated huge British demand for cotton which southern slaves met. That slavery was uneconomic or on the way out is a myth. There was a fundamental clash of economic interest between northern capitalists, who wanted to impose tariffs on imported manufactures to protect their own enterprises, and southern slaveowners who opposed tariffs because the cheapest machines came from Britain – and of course, there was also genuine moral opposition to slavery. Of course, after the brief post-war period of genuine emancipation, the Jim Crow laws, the Ku Klux Klan and the sharecropping system left southern blacks legally free, but politically powerless, and economically for the most part little if any better off than as slaves.

  112. Matt says

    Ryogam, If the table was set for Lincoln, and he had no choices, why did he propose compensated emancipation for the border states at the last minute, and then fail to see it through? This is the way slavery ended, peacefully, for the British and Spanish empires, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, all of Central America, Mexico, Bolivia, Uruguay, the French and Danish colonies, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela.

    Perhaps he could’ve proposed it in the famous Lincoln Douglas debates of Aug. 21, 1858 Instead he said “I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races,”


    “I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position.”

    And, “Free them [slaves] and make them politically and socially our equals? My own feelings will not admit of this. We cannot, then, make them equals.”

    Perhaps compensating people for human property is distasteful to you. It certainly is to me. 620,000 deaths, though, I find even more distasteful.

    Knockgoats emphasizes the extent to which slavery was embedded in the southern economy. Perhaps it was exceptionally so, and war was the only thing powerful enough to dislodge it. I dont know enough about slavery in the other countries listed to fully compare. I am no “lost cause” southerner, either. Its good history, though, to consider the alternatives, and understand not just what was gained, but what was lost in saving the Union. And de-mythologizing Lincoln is just plain old being a good American. No Gods, no Kings.

  113. Zxcv says

    A quick read through the Wikipedia article on slavery in Brazil brings up the following points relevant to the decline of slavery in that country:
    – During the Paraguayan war many slaves enlisted in the army in exchange for their freedom.
    – A drought in the 1870s
    – Brazil attracted many European immigrants.
    Few European immigrants to the USA went to the southern states until very recently. There were a few exceptions such as people immigrating to ports, to the few industrial areas (Birmingham), or as religious colonists.

  114. Zxcv says

    Another factor mentioned in the article which I neglected to mention is the role of Britain. Brazil exported sugar which competed with sources in British colonies. By contrast the Confederacy exported cotton and was on good terms with England.

  115. Matt says

    Zxcv, yes, the relationship between Britain and the south is important. Though its not clear to me how that relationship impacted slavery in the states. Britain was already well on its way to ending slavery by the time the American civil war broke out. Seems to me Britain sensed America divided was America weakened.

  116. Knockgoats says

    Buying out slaveowners in the border states would be one thing; buying out those throughout the south, quite another – just in financial terms but also politically. As I’ve said, the slaveowners were doing very well; and there was also a fundamental disagreement on tariff policy. I don’t know the details, but my guess is that Lincoln abandoned the border buyout proposal as it would not have stopped the South seceding anyway. Another factor to consider is that, given the disparity of resources, the North should have won much more quickly and easily than it did, even though the South had the advantage of simply needing to defend what it held. That it did not was probably largely down to differences in generalship, which Lincoln could not be expected to anticipate. Once he found competent generals (not really until 1864), the outcome was inevitable.

  117. Knockgoats says

    The site about US slavery I linked to@178 emphasises that the US south was very unusual in that the slave population grew by natural increase. It attributes the difference to the (comparative!) healthiness of the climate and working conditions (harvesting first tobacco, then cotton, as opposed to cutting sugar cane and mining in the rest of the Americas). Where the slave population shrank rather than growing, slavery was indeed economically unviable in the long term once the British Navy effectively halted the transatlantic slave trade – so Britain both maintained slavery in the US south (by its demand for cotton), and undermined it elsewhere.

  118. Matt says

    Good analysis on Britain, likely true. I wonder what William Wilberforce had to say on the American south.

    >>>Another factor to consider is that, given the disparity of resources, the North should have won much more quickly and easily than it did, even though the South had the advantage of simply needing to defend what it held.

    More than just a strategic advantage on the ground, but a tribal advantage in the hearts had to be overcome also. Shelby Foote recounts a conversation between Union and Confederate, late in the war:

    “Why you still fightin this war?”

    “Because your here.”

  119. logoseph says

    I got to go to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum Evolution exhibit on Darwin Day because I was on an MUN trip to DC. My friends got sick of hearing me geek out about how awesome the whole situation was.