Charles Darwin and slavery

There’s a new book due out about why abolitionism played an influence in the work of Charles Darwin. It’s written by historians of science Adrian Desmond and James Moorehave.

We are not trying to explain away all of Darwin’s work as being due to his passion for emancipation, but our argument is that his passion for racial unity is what drove him to touch this untouchable and treacherous subject

This sounds like it could be a fairly interesting idea Desmond and Moorehave have here. While it isn’t necessary to show that evolution is not about eugenics and other nonsense as presented by dishonest creationists (sorry about the reduncancy) through something like this, the truth is important.

Darwin, of course, did hold many of the prejudices of his day. But if this book is right, it appears he was of a more modern mindset than previously thought.

In other news, some reporters can be dumb.

The historians wanted sexual selection was responsible for differences in appearance between races of both animals and humans.

In the theory of sexual selection traits seen as desirable but which give no competitive advantage to a species are passed down through generations.

Aside from the first sentence being, um, not a sentence, sexual selection doesn’t seem terribly relevant here. Skin color is first driven by natural selection, and then sexual selection may play a role. That explains the darker skin tones seen in societies living nearer the equator than those living in the colder climate of Europe and other similar latitudes. It isn’t that all people who see snow annually tend to get horniest when seeing light skin tones or that all people who are exposed to the sun year-long get hot and bothered over dark skin tones.

But it doesn’t end there.

‘Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution was driven by passion to end slavery’

This is the headline to the story and was probably written by the editor. I’m not sure from where it comes. Perhaps the quote of Desmond as posted above? At any rate, Darwin’s theory was driven by passion for evidence. Perhaps his desire to go into depth on certain details (human evolution, for example) was inspired by his anti-slavery stance, but the theory was not predicated on destroying any particular social institution. It was based upon evidence.

Anyway, the book comes out February 9th.