Darwin’s Delay

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One of the most discussed events in the history of biology is the delay between Darwin’s original conception of the theory of natural selection and the publishing of “Origin”. We all know the story. For more than 20 years Darwin kept his ideas mostly to himself and a close circle of colleagues who kept encouraging him to publish. Darwin’s delay has been attributed to his reticence to confront the religious and scientific establishment. Darwin keeps working but eventually he receives a letter from Wallace with essentially the same concepts outlined. Darwin’s colleagues arrange for a mutual presentation and the rest is history. Or is it? Here is a blog entry from John Wilken’s Evolving Thoughts that discusses this situation and a reference to a paper [pdf] presented recently by Darwin scholar, John van Wyhe that suggests that Darwin’s delay was only the result of underestimating the time it would take to complete a scheduled and well thought out research plan. Check it out. It will give you something to think about next time you discuss the history of evolutionary thought in your class.

BW

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  1. I recently finished to the book “Darwin and the Barnacle” by Rebecca Stott.

    It also hypothesizes that Darwin’s delay was for reasons other and just a reticence to confront the scientific establishment (influenced by their religious beliefs).

    I enjoyed the read and recommend it for anyone interested in reading something about Darwin in celebration of anniversaries that are around the corner. You can check it out at:

    http://www.amazon.com/Darwin-Barnacle-Spectacular-Scientific-Breakthrough/dp/0393325717/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1229226616&sr=1-1

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