10 February 2008

Dinner with Darwin

The Dispersal of Darwin has a list of questions positing what one would do if it were possible to have a dinner with charles Darwin. I figured I'd dash off a quick answer to these, given my interest in evolutionary biology and all.

What would you ask him? I'd ask what he thought of the abuses of his theory using his name -- in particular, those of Social Darwinism and eugenics.

What would you bring him? A modern microscope and an introductory text on genetics, so he could get quickly moving on the modern-day evolutionary work in population genetics and microbiology.

How would you describe the evening? Spirited. I'm sure we'd both have a lot of questions to ask, and a lot of opinions to share.

What book would you bring him? Aside from the introductory genetics book? Probably Kurt Vonnegut's Galapagos, because I think he'd get a kick out of it.

What film would you show him? Spike Jonze and Charlie Kauffman's Adaptation, to be sure. (Gee, I hope he'd have a sense of humor!)

What would he think of the fact that his ideas and personality are under attack from Intelligent Design and creationism? Somehow I doubt he'd be all that surprised. He knew his ideas would cause controversy -- that's why he spent two decades gathering evidence before publishing. Still, I think he'd be disheartened that a century and a half later, with all the myriad evidence we've uncovered, people still keep their heads in the sand.

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