Thursday, November 07, 2013

Alfred Russel Wallace (8 January 1823 – 7 November 1913)

Alfred Russel Wallace died1 on this day in 1913. That's exactly one hundred years ago.

Jerry Coyne has posted a guest article by Andrew Berry that should be required reading for everyone who admires Wallace but wonders why he didn't get much credit for natural selection [A guest post for Wallace Day].

The IDiots over on Evolution News & Views (sic) have, of course, an entirely different version of the truth [Counter the History Deniers: Get Out the Word on Alfred Russel Wallace; We've Got the Resources You Need]. Here's what David Klinghoffer has to say about historical truth.
Today is the 100th anniversary of the death of Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913), co-discoverer with Charles Darwin of the theory of evolution by natural selection.

If you follow us at all at ENV you'll already know that the scientific and scholarly communities have done a terrible disservice to Wallace's legacy by airbrushing out the fact that he broke with Darwin over what University of Alabama science historian Michael Flannery calls "intelligent evolution." That is, Wallace's steadily more certain and detailed view that an "overruling intelligence" guided the evolutionary process. He anticipated major elements of the modern theory of intelligent design. Oh, the irony! It burns! It burns!

Well, the massive effort by scientists, journalists, bloggers and others to defend Darwinian theory often proceeds by such airbrushing. You can fight back and counter the censors by passing along the historical truth to friends, students, and teachers, online and in person.

...

It's time everyone agreed to be honest about Wallace -- about the important historical truth that one of the two men to first spell out the modern theory of evolution came to reject that theory as an adequate explanation of life's development, in favor of proto-intelligent design. Toward that end, please join us in refuting the history deniers.
You just can't make this stuff up. Every time you think that the IDiots can't get any worse, along comes one of them to show you that you were being far too optimistic.


1. I refuse to use the stupid phrase "passed away."

13 comments :

  1. Besides his personal modesty (as brought up on Coyne's blog), another important thing to remember is that Wallace came from a rather poor family whereas Darwin was rich. In the Victorian era, the opinion of "gentlemen" mattered more than that of people from the lower classes.

    And of course there was Wallace's obsession with seances and like later in life -- but was that well after the bulk of his work and was at a time when such nonsense was unfortunately popular in society.

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    1. In the Victorian era, the opinion of "gentlemen" mattered more than that of people from the lower classes.

      Then it's pretty hard to explain Thomas Henry Huxley who was no better off than Wallace.

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    2. Well, true, but consider how, despite being quite a successful scientist in his own right (part of my work deals with diatoms and cocolithophores and Huxley was a pioneer in studying those among many of his other talents), he was better known both now and then as being basically Darwin's press agent.

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  2. To the IDiots it's all about "the good guys"(believers) vs "the boogeyman"(nonbelievers). This is how the whole paranoid edifice is upheld. The grand conspiracy theory of the "Darwinists", out to kill god with evolution.

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  3. Wallace was a mixed bag -- a great codiscoverer of natural selection, a great founder of biogeography, and also a kook on the subject of spiritualism. He was also perhaps the nicest person ever. Klinghoffer is correct that Wallace's last, posthumous book backed intelligent guidance of evolution. But creationists are wrong to imagine that he would have backed them. Wallace's triumphs and foibles are well-known and there has been increasing discussion of them.

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  4. """It's time everyone agreed to be honest about Wallace -- about the important historical truth that one of the two men to first spell out the modern theory of evolution came to reject that theory as an adequate explanation of life's development, in favor of proto-intelligent design. Toward that end, please join us in refuting the history deniers."""

    Another lie, as usual. Wallace never *rejected* the theory he co-authored with Darwin. What Wallace didn't believe was that the theory could explain Human intelligence and other mental faculties. Quite different from what the IDiots are now spinning.



    And just for general interest, Wallace, in correspondence with Darwin, once wrote this:

    "[there are] no opponents left who know anything of natural history, so that there are none of the good discussions we used to have." (Wikipedia)

    I think I see an ironic parallel to the present ID vs Evolution situation.

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    1. Agreed. There were a couple areas where Wallace differed from Darwin. One being that Wallace could not fully see how the human mind could have only evolved.

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    2. It's more or less the Vatican Interpretation of the theory of evolution, too.

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  5. I understand Wallace came from the smarter class and his father just lost his money in bad deals. Its not about being rich but about being intelligent. rich people tend to be more intelligent. So indeed it was the upper classes in brit who dominated intellectually. they embraced evolution and got it wrong because of lack of diversity in those circles.

    Coming to the same error that evolution is the origin of biology makes sense. its a superficial observation of variation in kinds and then a extrapolation betweens kinds.
    Its lines of reasoning on raw data of in species variation. Possibly many people thought of this if they rejected creationism.

    his ideas on evolution are no better then his ideas on spiritualism . Same lack of evidence but a lively hunch to explain things.

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  6. Writing a book called 'Darwinism' may have served somewhat to help eclipse Wallace's own contribution ...

    (Funny, in passing, that IDers try so hard to recruit Wallace to their anti-Darwin cause. Never mind that he came to precisely the same conclusions as D re: Natural Selection, a theory that IDers unanimously try and discredit or restrict in scope. Darwin was wrong! And so was Wallace! But Wallace was hard-done-by because he has been overlooked for his contribution to this ... er ... wrong theory!)

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    1. LOL! Well, nobody can ever accuse the IDiots of being intellectually consistent.

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    2. Some Id people accept descent by evolution but question details and like a creator to be involved. so Wallace is okay since he limits evolutions ability's.
      Wallace is used to make the point evolution fails in any rejection of a hands on creator. So a "discoverer" of evolution in nature rejects its ability at some degree of complexity and so this is stressed.
      no contradiction going here .
      i am yEC and reject any evolution outside of kinds etc.

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  7. IDiot-creationists like to blurt something along the lines of:

    'Hey Darwinists, Wallace came up with the same evolution stuff as Darwin, which makes Wallace just as much an authority figure as Darwin, and Wallace believed that there's more to that evolution stuff than Darwin did, so at the very least that puts Creationism on equal ground with Darwinism! And since Wallace was a bigger thinker and was robbed of the credit and authority he deserves, Creationism wins!'

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    Of course when it comes to evolution and evolutionary theory it doesn't matter one bit what Wallace may have believed about spirits or gods. IDiot-creationists desperately want Wallace to be recognized as a (or THE) major 'authority figure' on evolution, evolutionary theory, and especially on spirits/god stuff even though neither Wallace nor anyone else in the world has ever produced an iota of evidence for spirits/god, and appeals to 'authority' don't prove squat, especially when alleged 'authority' is about imagined things for which there is no evidence whatsoever and never going to be.

    Hey IDiot-creationists, Wallace and Darwin should get positive credit for what they discovered and accurately explained, but they're both long dead and neither of them is an 'authority', at least in the way that you perceive and appeal to 'authority'. Except for the purpose of proper credit it doesn't matter who initially came up with evolutionary inferences, hypotheses, or theory. You IDiots think that everyone is and should be as sychophantic as you, and that everyone should worship whichever so-called 'authority' or 'authority figure' that you choose. Dream on.

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