Talk:On the Origin of Species

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Janet Browne on human origins in OTOOSEdit

1. Hi. Dave, I truly don’t understand your obsession with Janet Browne and her vortex of bullshit on p.60 of Power of Place. In this edit, you added a fake news quote from this vortex, which consisted of three individual claims, two which are completely false. Furthermore, your characterization of what Browne said is also false. You claimed that in the quote you provided, she said there was a single reference to human origins in OTOOS, when she explicitly said exactly the opposite: “In this book, he was completely silent on the subject of human origins”. I’ll parse the quote out in para.7, but first some history on Wikipedia’s treatment of human origins in OTOOS.

2. When I started editing here nearly two years ago, you had long ago posted that Darwin alluded to human origins one and only one time in OTOOS: “His only allusion to human evolution was the understatement that "light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history".” (I’ll refer to this statement as “Claim XYZ”). I used to naively accept Claim XYZ as gospel fact, if Wikipedia said that Darwin had only alluded to human evolution one time, who was I to question it? Wikipedia has strict rules requiring posts be verified by reliable sources, right? But my BS detectors went off when I was reading TDOM, because in the introduction Darwin refers back to OTOOS and mentions two instances where he discussed human origins: Sentence Light-will-be-thrown on p.488 and Comment sexual-selection-applies-to-humans on p.199.

3. So, Darwin’s own writing contradicted Claim XYZ, common sense contradicted Claim XYZ, it should have been easy to change “His only allusion to human evolution was…” to “He alluded to human evolution with…”. But alas, this was not to be. You trotted out Janet Browne’s vortex of bullshit to justify your post. Not only did Browne say Darwin was “completely silent on the subject of human origins” in the quote you provided, in the preceding sentences, she went on in grand theatrical style about how Darwin had long ago drained his manuscripts of any reference to human origins, and that he hadn’t reintroduced them, and that he had avoided talking about the origins of human beings “with profound deliberation”. This just didn’t make any sense to me, because Darwin had alluded to human origins on at least two occasions, so why the over-the-top claims that he hadn’t? Whenever I brought this up on the talk page, you insisted that I was just too stupid to comprehend Browne’s brilliance. You said it should be parsed out as “he was silent... except” even though that would have led to the opposite conclusion you were claiming. It was so confusing for me, I didn’t understand what was happening, until…

4. I still remember that feeling, riding in my cousin’s car, reading OTOOS, when I came to the passage on page 479 where Darwin wrote that bone patterns in our hands being homologous to other mammals “at once explain themselves on the theory of descent with slow and slight successive modifications.” This set the gears whirling in my mind. OTOOS says that our morphology is explained by Darwin’s theory of descent with modification??! How can you have a more explicit reference to human evolution than that?!!! My blood ran cold as the light finally dawned on me. Browne knew. She knew very well there plenty of references to human evolution in OTOOS. She had deliberately set out to fuck over the truth. She wanted to provide cover for the left-wing thought police to “aggressively push their biased perspective on the rest of the world” and she knew the best place to hide a lie was in plain sight, mixed in with other lies, in one grand vortex of bullshit. And she knew she had to put in enough accurate and ambiguous statements for the thought police to defend the fake news passage. I looked in the mirror and knew I had two choices: throw in the towel or confront this poison head on.

5. Having realized that Browne knew very well of plenty of references to human evolution in OTOOS, I called out many of her false and self-contradictory fake news claims in her pp.60-61 vortex of bullshit, not just about references to human origins in OTOOS, but also about references to the Creator and origins of life as well. Despite this, you kept insisting that everything Browne wrote was perfectly clear and reliable, although other editors disagreed, and finally a consensus was reached to remove her citation because it was found to be too ambiguous. You then put in the place of the removed Browne citation, you replaced it with a citation to James Costa, which unbeknownst to you described Darwin’s p.199 comment on sexual selection as a “reference to human origins”. This is exactly what I had been saying, the very point you had been giving me hell for, and now the source you added contradicted everything you had been claiming about OTOOS only having one allusion to human origins. But even after I pointed this out to you, you still kept banging on that both Browne and Costa were in perfect accordance. It felt like being in the Twilight Zone where up is down and black is white. I guess that’s why they call it fake news.

6. Joseph Carroll (scholar) is a modern academic scholar on Darwin and writes that commentators who say that Sentence Light-will-be-thrown is the only reference to human evolution “overlook” other such references. But, what do you do in response to me posting this point to the article? As mentioned in para.1, the first thing you did was to remove it and replace it with a quote from Browne’s vortex of bullshit as a footnote reference – currently #185 – and to falsely claim that the quote you added said there was a single reference to human origins in OTOOS. And with that edit, along with this one, you expanded two paragraphs into two pages, with much background material in a section meant to describe the book itself, as there is another section for background material to go.

7. So, let’s parse out the quote you added, which contains three separate claims. I’ve reproduced the relevant parts here with the individual claims numbered for reference:

“In this book, (1) he was completely silent on the subject of human origins … (2) he did refer in several places to mankind … (3) The only words he allowed himself … [to] refer to human beings were … 'Light will be thrown…'.” Janet Browne, Power of Place (2002), page 60

Let’s rephrase Browne’s three claims and put them in a list. The quote you added says that in OTOOS, there are:

  1. zero references to human origins,
  2. several references to human beings, and
  3. one and only one reference to human beings, namely Sentence Light-will-be-thrown.

Claims 2 and 3 are in direct contradiction with each other: either there is only one reference to human beings or there is more than one. Claim 2 is the correct one here of course: there is obviously more than one reference to human beings in OTOOS. Claim 3 is simply false: Darwin certainly “allowed himself” more than the 12 listed words to “refer to human beings”. Claim 1 is also false: the book was obviously not “completely silent on the subject of human origins”. So Browne is hitting one for three, a 33% accuracy rate, hardly good enough to qualify as a reliable source for this great encyclopedia we are trying to build. To add insult to injury, your claim that the quote says that there is one and only one reference to human origins in OTOOS is also false (last time I checked, zero references ≠ one reference, and human beings ≠ human origins). If we include this inaccurate claim in the calculation here, we get a paltry accuracy rate of 25%. Definitely not in compliance with WP:RS.

8. Carroll would hardly have been referring to fake news in saying that scholars overlook references to human evolution, but rather to authors such as Michael Ruse and Robert J. Richards, who in The Cambridge Guide to the “Origin of Species” (2009), page xvii, write in the introduction: “The Origin in not directly about humans. The only explicit reference is an almost throwaway passage at the end of the book. ‘Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history.’” Given the obvious reality that there are other references to humans in OTOOS, Carroll is absolutely correct to say that Ruse and Richards have overlooked them.

9. It might be cute when kids believe that the gifts they find under the tree were delivered by a fat guy riding a flying sleigh and sliding down the chimney, and it might be cute when adults pretend to believe in Santa, but it is truly sad if adults don’t grasp the difference between fact and fantasy. Similarly, we are adults here, and it is time for us to act like grown-ups. It is time for us to recognize that just like Santa Claus isn’t real, neither are many of the statements made on pp.60-61 of Power of Place. --Stan Giesbrecht (talk) 03:34, 3 October 2017 (UTC)

Stan, another long rant going over ground we've discussed already – you seem to read Browne differently from everyone else, and I note that Carroll recommends her biography of Darwin. . dave souza, talk 18:18, 30 October 2017 (UTC)
1. RE, “ground we've discussed already”: Let’s look a bit closer at the ground we’ve covered so far. You kept pushing the line that Darwin had alluded to human evolution one and only one time (on p.488) [1] [2] when I pointed out that Darwin himself had said that he had alluded to human origins on p.199. You insisted that this couldn’t be because Janet Browne had, in your words, said there was only one allusion to human origins. Yet, you had also claimed (correctly this time) that Browne had said that Darwin had deliberately avoided all discussion of human origins (either way though, Browne clearly said that there was not more than one allusion to human origins in OTOOS).
2. When I put this contradiction of one or zero references to David Wilson, he conceded that “the passage on p.60 is somewhat ambiguous and can be easily misinterpreted” and therefore “it should of course only be cited to support statements when the support it provides is unequivocal”. This allowed me to remove the citation, which you promptly replaced with a citation to James Costa. My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I read Costa, because he explicitly stated exactly what I had been saying, that Darwin’s comment on p.199 about sexual selection applying to humans was a reference to human origins.
3. So here were two sources you were pushing, who said diametrically opposing things on this point, these are your words, Costa saying there is more than one allusion to human origins in OTOOS and Browne saying there wasn’t, yet you also said that you supported using both sources on this very point. When I asked you to clarify your position on this contradiction, you stonewalled, prompting YoPienso to ask you to answer the question of how Browne and Costa could both be good source on the very point they made opposing claims. Unfortunately, you took a diversion first (reposting disputed content on another page), before coming back to Talk:CD where your response was to slag me for this that and the next thing, rather than actually addressing the issue. This further prompting YoPienso to post a link to a frozen waterfall on your talk page.
4 Going back to your edit prompting this whole conversation, based on the conversations that have actually occurred on this topic, I’d bet dollars to donuts that you are the only one here who thinks it’s a good idea to quote one historian saying: “In this book, he was completely silent on the subject of human origins” as a source for the post: “Many modern historians have seen this sentence as Darwin’s only discussion of human origins”. --Stan Giesbrecht (talk) 06:49, 2 February 2018 (UTC)
Hi Stan, have a doughnut. Fair point that we shouldn't be giving just one historian as an example, without pointing to the source for the many: "Following Darwin's lead, most commentators cite this one passage as the only reference to man in the Origin, but they thus overlook, as did Darwin himself, two sentences that are, in their own quiet way, even more effective." Quoting Carroll. So, I've added that quote and a citation to him. May review how we phrase our text. . . dave souza, talk 19:44, 2 February 2018 (UTC)

Worth noting 1858 papers in lead?Edit

The lead is correct, OtOOS introduced the theory and evidence to the world at large, but as noted in the relevant section outlines of the concept by CD and ARW were published jointly in the preceding year. Maybe worth clarifying. . . dave souza, talk 04:19, 17 January 2018 (UTC)

The diff introduced the underlined text:
Darwin's book, using the theory of Natural Selection published the year before by Alfred Russel Wallace, introduced the scientific theory that populations evolve over the course of generations through a process of natural selection.
Yes, Wallace published in 1858 but the proposed text suggests that Darwin's book was based on Wallace's work, and/or that Darwin needed Wallace's work to devise natural selection. That is misleading as Darwin had been working on his ideas for decades. There are many cases in science where the conditions are such that several people come up with similar ideas at around the same time. Wallace's work is explored in the article, but the lead should not suggest that it was the core of what Darwin did. In particular, it should not do that because no reliable source makes that claim. Johnuniq (talk) 04:56, 17 January 2018 (UTC)

Race, attribution, etc. February 2018 further discussionEdit

1. Claims of misrepresentation don’t count for anything without at least some explanation of what was and wasn’t misrepresented and actually cut against the claim on the presumption that if something is misrepresented people will explain what it is. The "Recommendations for further reading" referred to here comes from 2003, well before Darwin’s Sacred Cause of 2009. Thus it is highly possible that Joseph Carroll might also criticize D&M’s newer book if he felt they were still making “use of intentionally misleading techniques of quotation and documentation” as they did in their older book.
2. RE, Richard Dawkins was not talking about classification: I will reproduce the passage referred to (repeating what I did a few posts up from the link you provided) and let readers judge for themselves whether Dawkins doesn’t talk about classification in the passage or if the claim is simply to distract from Dawkins getting Darwin’s classification criteria wrong:
"Don’t be misled by the ill-chosen and unfortunate subtitle of Darwin’s great book: The preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. It is abundantly clear from the text itself that Darwin didn’t mean races in the sense of ‘A group of people, animals, or plants, connected by common descent or origin’ (Oxford English Dictionary, definition 6.I). Rather, he intended something more like the OED’s definition 6.II: ‘A group or class of people, animals, or things, having some common feature or features’. An example of sense 6.II would be ‘All those individuals (regardless of their geographical race) who have blue eyes’." (Dawkins, 2009, p.62)
3. You cited WP:YESPOV, the explanation section of Wikipedia’s neutral point of view (WP:NPOV) policy, citing the third bullet point: Avoid stating facts as opinions which says, “Uncontested and uncontroversial factual assertions made by reliable sources should normally be directly stated in Wikipedia's voice.” A more relevant bullet point is the second: Avoid stating seriously contested assertions as facts which says, “If different reliable sources make conflicting assertions about a matter, treat these assertions as opinions rather than facts, and do not present them as direct statements.” The simple truth is, the sources that you have presented for the meaning of race fit into the latter (second bullet point) rather than the former (third bullet point). They are all over the map, none of them saying the same thing. Geoffrey Hodgson [3] and Mark Isaak [4] claim that Darwin never referred to human races in OTOOS, whereas James Costa and Desmond & Moore [5] clearly say that he did, so this obviously doesn’t fit into the “uncontested and uncontroversial factual assertions” category you cited as justification for removing the in text attribution I added. --Stan Giesbrecht (talk) 06:44, 2 February 2018 (UTC)
Stan, the more you go over old arguments, the more incoherent you seem to get – are you just trying to score points? Please start afresh, comment on the text as it is now, and make concise proposals for improvement, citing the sources which support your proposals. . . dave souza, talk 19:51, 2 February 2018 (UTC)
1. Really? It’s incoherent to point out the possibility that Joseph Carroll might have the same criticism of D&M 2009 as he expressed for D&M 1991? It’s incoherent to point out that not only did Richard Dawkins discuss the criteria Darwin used to classify races, but also that what he said on the matter was incorrect? I am extremely disappointed to be accused of trying to score points. Do I really need to point out that Wikipedia’s First Pillar is to build an encyclopedia, which means not compromising on accuracy. This of course includes sources, because we all know you can’t build a stable house on quicksand. The accuracy and reliability of this great project is the only “score” I am concerned about.
2. Following your suggestion, I reinstated the in text attribution on the meaning of “race” per WP:WikiVoice, Avoid stating seriously contested assertions as facts which says, “If different reliable sources make conflicting assertions about a matter, treat these assertions as opinions rather than facts, and do not present them as direct statements.” As well as points above and below, there is a citation to Bernasconi & Lott, who according to Jonathan Gribetz said that Darwin did not refer to human races in OTOOS [6]. This point is contradicted by James Costa and Desmond & Moore who say that Darwin did refer to human races [7]. As stated above, the policy on conflicting assertions means that in text attribution is required.
3. As mentioned in the History section of WP:NPOV, this policy flows, in part, from comments made by Jimbo here. This guidance, from the very early days of Wikipedia, is as relevant today as it was back then.
“Perhaps the easiest way to make your writing more encyclopedic, is to write about _what people believe_, rather than _what is so_. If this strikes you as somehow subjectivist or collectivist or imperialist, then ask me about it, because I think that you are just mistaken. What people believe is a matter of objective fact, and we can present _that_ quite easily from the neutral point of view.”
4. I also reposted the sentence from the book which includes the line “the preservation of favoured individuals and races”. In this post you objected, saying the sentence was an “odd addition of a supposedly similar quote from the body text – any similarity is synthesis”. In fact, Wikipedia’s policy on using primary sources (WP:PSTS) states:
“A primary source may only be used on Wikipedia to make straightforward, descriptive statements of facts that can be verified by any educated person with access to the primary source but without further, specialized knowledge.”
5. It clearly doesn’t take specialized knowledge to recognize that in the sentence from the text, the term “favoured” applies not just to “individuals” but also to “races” because of the word “and”. This is basic grammar, nothing specialized here, so saying that “the preservation of favoured individuals and races” is similar to “the Preservation of Favoured Races” most certainly does not violate Wikipedia’s policy of WP:NOR. Nevertheless, I did not identify the sentences as similar when making the post, because readers will be able to recognize this for themselves. --Stan Giesbrecht (talk) 05:04, 5 February 2018 (UTC)

Nope, still looks like a mix of original research and speculation about what sources might have said if they'd been published later. It won't do, and you're verging on slow edit warring. As above, please start afresh with a new section, discuss the present text rather than your past battles, and be concise and to the point. . . dave souza, talk 19:34, 5 February 2018 (UTC)

1. I don’t know how to be any clearer. Some of the sources you added say that Darwin did refer to human races in OTOOS (James Costa and Desmond & Moore [8]), some of them claim he did not refer to human races (Geoffrey Hodgson [9], Mark Isaak [10], and Bernasconi & Lott according to Jonathan Gribetz [11]). How can they be more opposite than that? These are not some obscure sources you haven’t heard of, they are the very sources that you added to the article. Wikipedia policy is absolutely clear on how to treat a situation like this, yet your only response is “nope”? You should be addressing rather than ignoring the issue.
2. And how many times are you going to trot out that tired old line of original research every single time someone points out that you are violating some policy or that your source doesn’t say what you posted? As I’ve told you many times, it says: “This policy of no original research does not apply to talk pages and other pages which evaluate article content and sources (emphasis added). --Stan Giesbrecht (talk) 05:48, 6 February 2018 (UTC)
Please stop quoting policy—people here know the basics. Obviously (WP:AGF) mention of original research refers to what arguments support content in the article. Please start a new section with no mention of policy or other editors. Focus on one small change and let's deal with that. Johnuniq (talk) 07:16, 6 February 2018 (UTC)
@Johnuniq. 1. You have reverted me many many times for non-reasons, so no surprise that you did that again, this time citing WP:DR and WP:RSN in your edit summary. None of the steps at WP:DR support ignoring policy. Rather, the first step WP:DR identifies is for editors involved in editing and/or reverting to discuss concerns raised on the talk pages. WP:RSN is for discussing the general reliability of one or more sources and doesn’t strike me as the place to discuss whether editors should comply with Wikipedia’s core content policy, but you can raise the issue there if you want.
2. As Dave identified here, the guiding policy in this dispute is neutral point of view (WP:NPOV), and he cited the third bullet point to justify removing the in text attribution: Avoid stating facts as opinions which applies to “Uncontested and uncontroversial factual assertions”; so the question becomes whether or not the assertions made on this topic by the sources presented meet this criteria. Some of the questions that you need to answer include, are there sources saying Darwin did refer to human races in OTOOS, yes or no, and are there sources saying Darwin did not refer to human races, yes or no. Getting your response to these questions is obviously the first step required by WP:DR, but of course, no one is holding their breathe given your record. You have preached to me many many times to focus on content, focus on content, and have even come to my talk page (permalink) to tell me that. So, I said fine, let’s focus on content, let’s discuss your edits where you reverted me, but you flatly refused, time and time again, using lines such as “I am not motivated to debate article content” and “I will not engage in further discussion”; definitely not responses in compliance with WP:DR.
3. You say I am “Obviously” guilty of violating WP:OR and that everyone needs to blindly assume that you and Dave are making this claim in good faith. But WP:AGF says to assume people are trying to help the project “Unless there is clear evidence to the contrary” and to “avoid accusing others of harmful motives without clear evidence”. That’s the criteria provided, so let’s look at the evidence.
  • One of the main reasons I started editing here was because, at the time, Wikipedia was making such claims as Darwin never saw any races as inferior and that he had not alluded to human origins more than once in OTOOS. These claims are utterly and nonsensically false, but when anyone would point this out, Dave would immediately accuse them of original research, and you would join the edit war. Even though neither Browne nor Costa actually said that Darwin mentioned human origins one and only one time, you reverted me to restore this unverified claim [12] [13]. This is what is explicitly prohibited by WP:OR: the posting of claims to the article that are not stated in some published source.
  • When I removed the false claim that Darwin never saw any races as inferior, Dave immediately reverted me, prompting YoPienso to provide a ton of sources showing the claim to be false. But he ignored all the secondary sources that disagreed with his post and responded with rivers of his own interpretation and spin on the talk pages, even though he should have immediately agreed to remove the claim if his source did not say what the post did. We managed to remove the claim, but then Dave tried again some weeks later, posting that Darwin believed “that black people were fully equal” which was simply synthesized from the fact that Darwin had a black tutor and opposed slavery, facts that were sourced by Desmond and Moore, based on Dave’s belief (or delusional fantasy) that the latter proved the former. This despite the fact that YoPienso had informed him that Desmond and Moore had considered the matter and reached the very opposite conclusion, writing: “He thought blacks inferior but was sickened by slavery”. So Dave’s claim contradicted the very source he cited, but this didn’t stop you from reverting me to restore his post, which you knew was original research.
  • It wasn’t just me, of course, other editors had challenged this claim long before I started editing, including Filanca (archive). When Filanca pointed out that Dave’s post that “Darwin did not share the then common view that other races are inferior” was both not true and not sourced, you jumped on the bandwagon to accuse Filanca of violating WP:OR. The post was clearly synthesized from Darwin having had a black tutor (a total Non sequitur (logic) argument if there ever was one). None of the authors that you or Dave mentioned on the talk page said what the post did, so it obviously violated WP:OR, but even if one of the authors had stated that, no citation was added to the claim on the article, so it still would have violated WP:OR until the citation was added. But in any case, Filanca pointing out that the post was unverified and false is definitely not WP:OR. It’s getting pretty hard not to see a pattern emerging here.
4. As Jimbo said (para.3, 5 February post above), we can’t necessarily know precisely _what is so_ on every topic. This includes Darwin’s state of mind, what precisely he was thinking when he chose the title of his most famous book. On the other hand, we do know what various authors wrote on the matter, so attributing what they said is the farthest thing from original research that could be posted to the article. --Stan Giesbrecht (talk) 02:44, 16 February 2018 (UTC)

Administrator note: I have no opinion on the merits of the arguments above; my role as an administrator is to prevent disruption to the Wikipedia project. To that end, I have two tools at my disposal: article protection, which in this case would lock the article for all editors including those uninvolved with the dispute, or identifying and blocking the source of the disruption. I chose the latter and blocked Stan Giesbrecht, as having the least impact on the project for the most benefit. I regret doing this because he has been engaging on the talk page, but the WP:BURDEN rests on the person who wants to add content, and that burden is not satisfied by revert-warring (or, for that matter, writing walls of text that other editors are disinclined to read). ~Anachronist (talk) 05:46, 16 February 2018 (UTC)

A Darwin misread of Wallace re female trimorphism in butterflies? — request for confirmationEdit

See here re this page of Origin of Species. Thx, Humanengr (talk) 17:57, 26 December 2018 (UTC)

Return to "On the Origin of Species" page.