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Friday, November 25, 2011

De mortuis nil nisi bonum

De mortuis nil nisi bonum is a Latin phrase which indicates that it is socially inappropriate to say anything negative about a (recently) deceased person. Sometimes shortened to nil nisi bonum, the phrase derives from the sentence "de mortuis nil nisi bonum dicendum est" and is variously translated as "Speak no ill of the dead", "Of the dead, speak no evil", "Do not/ Don't speak ill of the dead" or, strictly literally, "Of the dead, nothing unless good".
There are times when social conventions need to be violated. This is one of those times.

Lynn Margulis died last Tuesday (November 22, 2011) at the age of only 73. Margulis is rightly famous for her endosymbiotic theory of the origins of mitochondria and chloroplasts. We known that she was right and she deserves credit for that part of her theory.

However, since then (about 1970) her record has not been stellar and it's only appropriate that we keep this in mind as we reflect on her contribution to science. Here's a video of Lynn Margulis "defending" science by promoting the idea that one of the buildings of the World Trade Center in New York was brought down on Sept. 11, 2001 by explosives that had been planted in the building months before.

[Hat Tip: Why Evolution Is True]


  1. As they say:

    "Intellectual brilliance is no guarantee against being dead wrong"

  2. Wow, she was even more of a crackpot than I suspected.

  3. She just blathers on and on, making appeals to authority and making apparently baseless claims, while accusing others of doing the same.

    The fact of the matter is that her accomplishments were not that great, and her crackpot BS was highly unprofessional and, well, let's just go ahead and call it dishonest (She perhaps didn't know? Then her claims to know weren't honest).

    Don't forget her HIV denialism, and disregard of evidence whenever it went against her pet beliefs that endosymbiosis is responsible for most everything in life.

    Glen Davidson

    It is generally agreed that certain organelles of the eukaryotic cell, especially mitochondria and plastids such as chloroplasts, originated as bacterial endosymbionts. This theory is called the endosymbiotic theory, and was first articulated by the Russian botanist Konstantin Mereschkowski in 1905.
    Wikipedia succeeds in not mentioning Lynn Margulis.

  5. I visit frequently and seldom comment but I thank you sir for informing me about this woman's stupidity and her hatred.

    Only a deep-seated hatred can foster the belief in such a fantasy.

  6. Wikipedia succeeds in not mentioning Lynn Margulis.

    That is simply atrocious. Wankers are taking over Wikipedia. Interestingly enough, Russian Wikipedia's article on "symbiogenesiss" cites Margulis AND several scientists before Merezhkovsky.

  7. Interestingly enough, the English Wikipedia's article actually does mention Lynn Margulis, and has done so continously (minus quickly reverted vandalisms) since Sept 9 2004, when the article was established.

  8. Just to clarify,

    She is not mentioned in "endosymbiosis" as heleen correctly says says, but she is in "endosymbiotic theory".