Talk:The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex

Page contents not supported in other languages.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
WikiProject Books (Rated B-class)
WikiProject iconThis article is within the scope of WikiProject Books. To participate in the project, please visit its page, where you can join the project and discuss matters related to book articles. To use this banner, please refer to the documentation. To improve this article, please refer to the relevant guideline for the type of work.
B This article has been rated as B-Class on the project's quality scale.
WikiProject Evolutionary biology (Rated Start-class, High-importance)
WikiProject iconThis article is part of WikiProject Evolutionary biology, an attempt at building a useful set of articles on evolutionary biology and its associated subfields such as population genetics, quantitative genetics, molecular evolution, phylogenetics, and evolutionary developmental biology. It is distinct from the WikiProject Tree of Life in that it attempts to cover patterns, process and theory rather than systematics and taxonomy. If you would like to participate, there are some suggestions on this page (see also Wikipedia:Contributing FAQ for more information) or visit WikiProject Evolutionary biology
Start This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 High  This article has been rated as High-importance on the project's importance scale.

What is sexual selection[edit]

The article goes into a lot of background information before it actually explains what Darwin suggested in his book on sexual selection. The article assumes that the reader will go through the length of the article reading about the problems and criticism of Darwin's previous work on natural selection and still be interested in reading what this book itself was about. Not till the second para of the sub topic "Apparently non-adaptive features" does the article explain sexual selection in the lines "Darwin developed the theory of sexual selection, which outlined how different characters could be selected for if they conveyed a reproductive advantage to the individual." Even in that para it mentions the problem of a half eye, before it mentions the problem of seemingly useless features. I think what sexual selection is, should be mentioned (in brief) early on in the article, later the article can move into details.

Nice article, otherwise :)

  • Well, I agree. I had meant to write that section, but haven't gotten around to it yet (some time later). :-) --Fastfission 05:56, 9 March 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Can someone complete those stubs? --Emplynx 16:45, 28 March 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Monogenism verus polygenism[edit]

The article says that Darwin was a monogenist, meaning he believed human races were merely "sub-species" of each other. The following sentence also describes polygenism as the belief that races are "sub-species" of each other. The difference between the two needs to be clarified. -- Luke

Has anyone actually read The Descent of Man? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Uber336 (talkcontribs)

"Finally, although the gradual decrease and ultimate extinction of the races of man is a highly complex problem, depending on many causes which differ in different places and at different times; it is the same problem as that presented by the extinction of one of the higher animals- of the fossil horse, for instance, which disappeared from South America, soon afterwards to be replaced, within the same districts, by countless troups of the Spanish horse. The New Zealander seems conscious of this parallelism, for he compares his future fate with that of the native rat now almost exterminated by the European rat. Though the difficulty is great to our imagination, and really great, if we wish to ascertain the precise causes and their manner of action, it ought not to be so to our reason, as long as we keep steadily in mind that the increase of each species and each race is constantly checked in various ways; so that if any new check, even a slight one, be superadded, the race will surely decrease in number; and decreasing numbers will sooner or later lead to extinction; the end, in most cases, being promptly determined by the inroads of conquering tribes."

  • Uh, yeah, I've read it. What's your point? Again, Darwin isn't being prescriptive, he's trying to be descriptive. There's a big difference there. --Fastfission 14:08, 27 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It seems like Darwin is trying to equate the extermination of humans with the extermination of animals. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Uber336 (talkcontribs)

Only in the descriptive sense—he thinks that if you mix different groups of humans together, over time the more "fit" group will probably end up exterminating the "less fit" group, as he had seen actually happen in South America, where Europeans were devastating native populations through disease, war, and encroachment. He's not advocating it in the slightest. That much is obvious if you actually read it or know anything about his views on aborigines or slavery. He was a fellow of the Ethnological Society, which advocated the need to protect endangered native groups as one would protect endangered animals. So yes, he does "equate" them in the sense that he sees them as analogous, not in that he thinks that either are acceptable. --Fastfission 01:45, 28 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Doesn't the quote below suggest Darwin did see the "savage" races as somehow lower on the evolutionary scale [i.e., closer to baboons/gorillas] than the civilized races? He is claiming that the "break" between man his "nearest allies" is between a "Negro or Australian" and a "gorilla." Basic logic indicates that the sees Caucasians as further separated from non-humans than he sees "Negro or Australian"s separated from non-humans. He is claiming that currently the gap is between savages and gorillas...and that it will later widen (in both directions) to be between civilized man and baboons. For this to make any sense, "savage" human races have to evolutionarily separated from civilized ones in the same way that baboons are evolutionarily separated from gorillas.

"At some future period not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes...will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest Allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as the baboon, instead of as now between the Negro or Australian and the gorilla (1874, p. 178)." (talk) 13:09, 9 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Political views of Darwin and Galton[edit]

Neither Galton nor Darwin, though, advocated any eugenic policies such as those which would be undertaken in the early 20th century, as government coercion of any form was very much against their political opinions.

What is the source for this? FilipeS 23:21, 28 November 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Diane B. Paul, "Darwin, social Darwinism and eugenics," in Jonathan Hodge and Gregory Radick, eds., The Cambridge Companion to Darwin (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 214-239., in the References section. --Fastfission 00:04, 29 November 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks. Somehow, I'd missed the Biography section. :o FilipeS 01:17, 29 November 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Images from Descent of Man[edit]

I'd like to upload the full set of image from this book to Commons (Category:Descent of Man), though I'm not sure that the images I'm using are the best available. The ones I've uploaded (e.g. Image:Descent fig02.jpg) are from Darwin Online ([1]) but have a beige background (compare with say Image:Descent of Man - Figure 16.jpg, with white background) and some appear to be of lower resolution than those in the book. What background would be better - beige or white? And where else can we get the images from? It would be nice to have consistent looking images (and consistent figure numbers, another problem since the numbers seem to vary in different editions). This is going to take a lot of work to get them all uploaded (around 80 images total), so it's important to get this right the first time. Richard001 (talk) 08:00, 1 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A point to consider is that Darwin online claims copyright on the images it puts up, and although many are photos or scans of images created in the 19th century, apparently such copyright claims can be valid under English law. It's a while since I've looked into this, but something to be treated with caution. .. dave souza, talk 08:20, 1 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Oh, I didn't realize you could claim copyright of a scan of someone else's images... This might be more difficult than I thought. Richard001 (talk) 08:25, 1 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, I've contacted the director and we definitely can't use them. I've requested all the images I've uploaded myself be deleted and it looks like we'll have to do the same with some of the others, which have made the same assumption about scans as I did. The problem is probably widespread throughout Commons, in fact. Richard001 (talk) 23:24, 1 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Darwin's prediction[edit]

An anon added "The race debate: future of human race as predicted in chapter 6)".[2] –"His prediction for the future of mankind, from chapter 6, is rarely publicized, for obvious reasons". Eh, that's a common quote mine as discussed in more detail at TOA – worth including, but needs to be discussed in context. ... dave souza, talk 16:41, 12 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Quotation marks[edit]

The article suffers at present from a plague of quotation marks, which leave the reader uncertain whether they are genuine quotations from sources, or whether the contributor is being arch or sarcastic.

If a quotation is a real quotation, it should be at least a full clause long (including verb, that is) for contextual purposes. A single word in quotes surrounded by text originated by a contributor is immediately suspect. It should, it must, be sourced down to the page. Readers have a right to be able check the quote to see whether in context the quote says what the contributor asserts it does.

If the quotation is anything else it should come right out: it is not for a contributor to use puncuation to hint broadly that the source is incorrect or inappropriate (POV and/or orig. research). Macdonald-ross (talk) 11:45, 29 July 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Comparison of male and female sexes[edit]

I think that the following sexist paragraph written by Darwin is noteworthy enough to be in this article:

“The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shewn by man’s attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can women—whether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands. If two lists were made of the most eminent men and women in poetry, painting, sculpture, music (inclusive of both composition and performance), history, science, and philosophy, with half-a-dozen names under each subject, the two lists would not bear comparison. We may also infer, from the law of the deviation from averages, so well illustrated by Mr. Galton, in his work on ‘Hereditary Genius,’ that if men are capable of a decided pre-eminence over women in many subjects, the average of mental power in man must be above that of women.”

- Chapter XIX: Mental Powers of Man and Woman. Page 564 of the Penguin publication. [3] MathEconMajor (talk) 21:21, 11 August 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

We cover the issues arising from that paragraph in the Sexual selection section, and I've added a link to the pages concerned to that readers can follow the link to the entire quotation.[4] . . dave souza, talk 21:47, 11 August 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Emphasis in quotation[edit]

In the section "Natural selection and civilized society", part of the quotation is in bold, but there is no explanation of why. Is it relevant to some point? Is it in the original? The relevant quote is from chapter 5. I don't have the original source, but I don't see this emphasis in online sources. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:08, 16 November 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I see no reason for the bold style, and suggest it be removed. It is not present in the original which is here. Johnuniq (talk) 06:10, 17 November 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

racism downplayed[edit]

I find it a bit odd, how the racism of Charles Darwin is downplayed in the article. Even from the text quoted it is obvious that he was proposing genocidal racism in his book Descent of man. -- (talk) 11:38, 29 May 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You appear to have a rather warped view of things, please read texts more carefully and look for reliable secondary sources rather than imposing your own preconceptions. Unless you've specific proposals for article improvement, your comment appears to be offtopic soapboxing, . . dave souza, talk 18:00, 29 May 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Modern views[edit]

The section entitled "Modern views" seemed rather impoverished. The opinions of only one scholar are summarized, and the text from which they are derived is a monograph on the subject of Freud, not of Darwin.

Beyond these concerns, I cannot help but feel---though I am by no means an expert---that the statements made in the section are an unjust representation of Darwin's actual views. From what I do know of Darwin, I find it difficult to accept that he "looked forward to the extermination of what he considered to be savage races." Are there in fact grounds in Descent (or in other writings of Darwin) to support this characterization? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:12, 9 October 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Good point, I've removed the section as at best it shows an opinion from the preface to a book by Richard Webster (author) which is more concerned with Freud. It's not online for checking, but "Darwin looked forward to the extermination of what he considered to be savage races" is both inaccurate and a common creationist claim: if anything, Darwin thought it likely but tragic that uncivilised peoples would be decimated by the spread of imperialism etc., on the basis of what he'd witnessed. There are many Darwin scholars cited in the body of the article, we don't need to highlight this dubious opinion. . dave souza, talk 08:05, 10 October 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If the section seems impoverished, that is a reason for adding more material, not for removing what was already there. It is not relevant that the source is not a book specifically about Darwin. The other grounds the IP gave - that it didn't agree with the material, or consider it correct - are not really relevant, as the goal here is meant to be verifiability, not truth. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 08:07, 10 October 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The goal is verifiability and truth, which is why that paraphrase of policy is much debated. Singling out a new section for Webster's dubious views gives them undue weight, the views of experts on the topic are shown in the relevant sections of the article. The whole article should show modern scholarship, we don't single out one non-specialist as "modern views" or give his passing comments a section on their own. . dave souza, talk 08:11, 10 October 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The goal is verifiability, precisely because people can argue endlessly and unprofitably about what is true. If you consider an entire section for Webster's views undue weight, then the appropriate course would have been to integrate them into the rest of the article, as with the views of other experts. I'd like to note also that the fact that creationists may also make the claim that Darwin supported the extermination of savage races is irrelevant - Webster was not a creationist. 08:17, 10 October 2012 (UTC)Polisher of Cobwebs (talk)
I don't have access to Webster's writings, which may have been somewhat distorted in the paraphrase. If you'd like to add his views to the relevant section, go ahead and I'll look out more considered scholarship on the points. . dave souza, talk 08:21, 10 October 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Mivart's Quote?[edit]

I cannot for the life of me find any source for Mivart's supposed anonymous article in the Quarterly Review. I have checked volumes 126 through 131 and found no trace of it. (talk) 00:56, 20 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The quote seems to be from Mivart's Lessons from Nature, 1876, which states on page 184 (ch. 6)
"Thus, then, in our judgment the author of the Descent of Man has utterly failed in the only part of his work which is really important Mr. Darwin's errors are mainly due to a radically false metaphysical system in which he seems (like so many other physicists) to haye become entangled. Without a sound philosophical basis, however, no satisfactory scientific superstructure can ever be reared; and if Mr. Darwin's failure should lead to an increase of philosophic culture on the part of physicists, we may therein find some consolation for the injurious effects which his work is likely to produce on too many of our half-educated classes."
It is not impossible that Mivart also published some of this earlier, perhaps anonymously. Chiswick Chap (talk) 05:28, 20 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Distortions of Darwin’s views on Race[edit]

A couple of weeks ago, an editor, R3venans, removed the sentence, “Darwin viewed the differences between human races as superficial (he discusses them only in terms of skin color and hair type).” In fact, Darwin wrote, "The races differ also in constitution, in acclimatisation and in liability to certain diseases. Their mental characteristics are likewise very distinct; chiefly as it would appear in their emotional, but partly in their intellectual faculties." (Descent, 2nd Ed, 1874, page 167) Even though the line that R3venans had removed was completely and utterly false, his edits kept getting reverted without explanation. Eventually he was falsely accused of being a racist and holocaust denier and blocked indefinitely from editing (thankfully, he has been unblocked).

There are many other distortions and lies in this article. I know I am kicking some sacred cows here, which comes with some risks, but I am just so disgusted with this misrepresentation of Darwin and the abuse of those who seek the truth. Darwin is the greatest biologist of all time, and he deserves to have his views accurately reported. Feel free to disagree with him, but please do so honestly.

There are a number of editors on Wikipedia who are deeply uncomfortable with Darwin’s views on race who might throw up road blocks. My only hope here is that other editors and administrators will care enough about the truth to challenge any such road blocks. Please don’t allow such bullying tactics to impede an honest discussion about what Darwin really believed and wrote.

Here are 3 things that any self-respecting encyclopedia article on The Descent of Man will explicitly include:

  1. Darwin believed that human races were distinct subspecies. Darwin firmly believed in the “distinctness” of human races. He wanted to apply the general taxonomic principles to humans and set out to explore whether human races were distinct species or subspecies, and he determined it was the latter.
  2. While Darwin concluded that human races were distinct subspecies, this was not set in stone for him. We generally consider a species to be the largest population that can successfully interbreed, but this was only established in the 20th century. It was only one of multiple factors that Darwin considered in classifying the races of man. Thus, he acknowledged that humans can interbreed, yet wrote “it is almost a matter of indifference whether the so-called races of man … are ranked as species or sub-species; but the latter term appears the more appropriate.” (1874, page 180)
  3. Darwin ranked human races higher and lower on the organic scale. Darwin ranked all animals on the “organic scale”. He put humans at the top. He also ranks human races on the scale, with Caucasians being higher than the so-called savage races. (1874, pages 64, 156 and 619)

Examples of Propaganda in the Article[edit]

Darwin lastly applied his theory to one of the more controversial scientific questions of his day: whether the different races of human beings were of the same species or not

  • Darwin wrote that it was “almost a matter of indifference” whether to rank human races as species or subspecies

“whether the different races of human beings were of the same species or not: [passage on monogenism / polygenism]”

  • The Monogenism / Polygenism debate is whether humans have one or more than one origin, not whether humans races are currently separate species

Darwin reasoned ... that most of the mental differences [between human races] were merely cases of "civilization" or a lack of it.

  • Darwin wrote that natural selection was the main driver of intellectual faculties (1874, page 128)
  • He also wrote "Their mental characteristics are likewise very distinct; chiefly as it would appear in their emotional, but partly in their intellectual faculties.” (1874, page 167)

It was important to Darwin to relay the arguments of whether or not all races were of the same species—he had spent much of the preceding book tracing humans back to the Paleolithic age, and now he had to bring them back to the present time again. If the "savages" like those he met while on his Beagle voyage were not of the same species as civilised Englishmen, he would not be able to draw the complete continuum he felt necessary.

  • Darwin wrote that “it is almost a matter of indifference whether the so-called races of man … are ranked as species or sub-species; but the latter term appears the more appropriate.” (1874, page 180)
  • Darwin wrote that it was possible for different species to be "connected together by numberless gradations". (1874, page 175) So calling human races different species would not impact the fact that there is a continuum. (1874, page 174)

He considered the "race question" one of the most important of his day.

  • Again, for Darwin, the race question turned more on the semantic discussion about what species meant
  • He said that it was important for different groups to be classified by the same principles
  • He wrote that in practice this was impossible, citing monkey populations in South America that graduated into each other and were called subspecies and plant populations that “are connected together by numberless gradations” and still identified as separate species (1874, page 175)

polygenism theory ... postulated that the different human races were distinct species

  • In fact, polygenism posits that humans had multiple origins, and says nothing about whether humans are currently one or or more than one species.

Darwin considered … that races, if they were useful markers at all, were simply "sub-species" or "variants".

  • Darwin called the races distinct many times and further wrote that "they may be more fitly called sub-species" (1874, page 608)

This view [than all humans were the same species] (known as "monogenism") was ...

  • This sentence defines monogenism as positing that humans are all one species
  • In fact, Monogenism posits that all humans had a common origin, and says nothing about the present state of humans.

Darwin viewed the differences between human races as superficial (he discusses them only in terms of skin color and hair type).

  • Darwin wrote, “The races differ also in constitution, in acclimatisation and in liability to certain diseases. Their mental characteristics are likewise very distinct; chiefly as it would appear in their emotional, but partly in their intellectual faculties.” (1874, page 167) So, yeah, that's more than superficial, and that's more than just skin color and hair type.

Stan Giesbrecht (talk) 03:16, 25 December 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

1. Sure Dave, I’m the one pushing my POV. That’s fabulous, considering all the times you posted on the Charles Darwin page claiming that he didn’t think any races were inferior.
2. You didn't respond to one single comment I made above. The fact is, you removed WP:CENSORED information, not original research. The claim that TDOM is somehow not a reliable source is too ridiculous for further comment, but even if it was, I provided secondary sources on the CD talk page.
3. As you wrote, Darwin set out to determine the “value of the differences between [human races] under a classificatory point of view”. He is very explicit in his conclusion: “[Man] has diverged into distinct races, or as they may be more fitly called, subspecies.”[5] This is the “great geographical diversity” that Ghislen referred to. But the regressive left want this information suppressed.
4. However, I have a lot on my plate right now. This information is required under WP:NPOV and WP:COMPREHENSIVE, but I don't have time for such editing; maybe in a couple of weeks. . Stan Giesbrecht (talk) 03:06, 21 April 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Darwin’s views on the races of man[edit]

1. Dave, in your recent edits: you cited Ghiselin who says that in TDOM, Darwin could see no advantage to any racial difference. This is actually not accurate. He might have rejected natural selection as the cause of the external differences between the races, but certainly not the intellectual and moral differences. Similarly, you say that Darwin thought “there was no good evidence of advantages which could cause natural selection to operate.” This is inaccurate; here’s Darwin on natural selection:

But here we are at once met by the objection that beneficial variations alone can be thus preserved; and as far as we are enabled to judge (although always liable to error on this head) not one of the external differences between the races of man are of any direct or special service to him. The intellectual and moral or social faculties must of course be excepted from this remark;
— Descent of Man, Ed 1, Vol 1, 1871, pp.248-249, emphasis added

2. You also write that polygenism “asserted that races had been created separately” when in fact it only states that races had separate origins. For instance, polygenism would include a theory that each human race evolved separately from a different ape species; there is no requirement for special creation, so I edited that too.

3. I made some edits and additions, using information, among others, from the following sources:

John P. Jackson, Jr. & Nadine M. Weidman, Race, Racism, and Science: Social Impact and Interaction, 2004, pp.69-71
(page 69)...[Darwin] did think that there were distinct races that could be ranked in a hierarchy.

In The Descent of Man these views of race helped Darwin fill in his gradualist picture of the origin of humans. Darwin admitted that the gap in intelligence and moral sense between civilized people and the animals was a great one. But one could look to the lower races to fill that gap. Ever the gradualist, Darwin came down on the side of the monogenists by treating races not as separate (page 71 - no text on page 70) species, but as variations of a single species. “The most weighty of all the arguments against treating the races of man as distinct species,” he wrote, “is that they graduate into each other, independently in many case . . . of their having intercrossed” (Darwin 1871, 226). This graduation applied not only to their physical form but also to their mental and moral capabilities. Although Darwin maintained that there were established racial differences, these differences were a series of small gradations rather than large, unbridgeable chasms. What the naturalist confronted was not a stark break between humans and animals but a continuum from lower animals to higher animals, from higher animals to savages and barbarians, and finally from barbarians to civilized people.

Despite his evolutionary gradualism and argument for continuity, Darwin also clung to the idea that the human races were distinctly different and basically unchangeable, a legacy of the influence of polygenism on him. The differences were most obvious when one considered the racial extremes. When the Beagle arrived in Tierra del Fuego at the southernmost tip of South America, Darwin was astonished and horrified at the sight of the savages who ran out to meet the boat. “It was without exception,” he wrote in his diary of the voyage, “the most curious and interesting spectacle I had ever beheld. I could not have believed how wide was the difference, between savage and civilized man. It is wider than between a wild and domesticated animal, inasmuch as in man there is a greater power of improvement” (Darwin 1989 [1839], 172). He recalled the same scene at the end of The Descent of Man, where he added that on seeing the Fuegians “absolutely naked and bedaube3d with paint, their long hair . . . tangled, their mouths, frothed with excitement, and their expression . . . wild, startled, distrustful,” the idea immediately occurred to him: “such were our ancestors” (Darwin 1871, 404). Darwin’s experience with these savages provided him with further proof of their inalterable racial difference. When a party of Fuegian natives, Christianized and civilized in England, returned on board the Beagle as missionaries to their native land, the Fuegians reverted to their savage ways, convincing Darwin that racial habits and racial natures were entrenched and basically unchangeable. The conversion the savages had undergone had been superficial and fleeting, while their suitability to their native way of life, and their clear inferiority, were permanent. All that remained of racial evolution for Darwin, as for Wallace, was the extermination of the inferior races by the superior.(emphasis added)
Peter J. Bowler, Charles Darwin: The Man and His Influence, 1990, pp.194-195
The harsher side of this progressionism can be seen in its treatment of the ‘lower’ races of mankind. Anthropologists such as Lubbock were quite convinced that modern ‘savages’ retained a primitive level of culture because their mentality remained at a lower level than the more advanced whites. They were living fossils both culturally and mentally, preserving an earlier stage in biological evolution through into the modern world. Savages were, in effect, the missing links in the ascent of man from the apes – they were visible in the modern world even if their fossil equivalents had not yet even discovered. This position had already become apparent in Spencer’s evolutionism even before Darwin published the Origin of Species. Spencer realized that biological evolutionism made it possible to argue that the development of the mind and the development of civilization went hand in hand. The more intelligent races developed a higher culture and this culture in turn stimulated further mental progress. On this model the uncivilized races must be presumed to have a lower intelligence. The Victorians were confident that their industrial progress indicated a higher level of intelligence for the white race and they were anxious to find excuses for their ‘struggle for existence’, evolutionism allowed non-industrialized societies to be identified as the products of a primitive mentality. The ‘lower’ races were thus evolutionary failures: whatever the cause, they had lagged behind in the march of progress and would never be able to catch up. Their displacement by the more advanced types was only a matter of time.

We have seen that Darwin shared this attitude towards the lower races, although he disapproved of any deliberate cruelty towards the inferior branches of the human stock. In the end he thought that the replacement of lower by higher types was inevitable, except in those areas where whites could not penetrate because the conditions were unsuitable. Towards the end of his life he wrote to a correspondent about the struggle for existence among races and concluded: ‘Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world.’

emphasis added
Gregory Radick, Darwin and Humans, in The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Darwin and Evolutionary Thought, edited by Michael Ruse, 2013, pp. 173 & 176
He was nevertheless wondering how to connect the fact (as it seemed) that the human races, originating from a single stock, formed mere varieties within a single species, with the fact (as it seemed) that those races were so different physiologically as to sustain different species of lice. In 1844 and again in 1865, he quizzed England’s leading louse expert, Henry Denny, about it all – in the interim attempting to get Denny some lice from American blacks. In the Descent, Darwin cited Denny in a paragraph-long discussion of the matter. On the whole, Darwin judged, the facts about lice – and the surgeon’s observation had since been confirmed more generally – seemed to support the ranking of the different human races as distinct species (Darwin 1871a, 1:219-20; Radick and Steadman forthcoming).(page 173)

[In chapter 7], Darwin undertakes a balanced discussion of the classificatory, varieties-or-species debate, finding that some considerations (such as the observations concerning lice) favor a ranking of the human races as distinct species, whereas others (such as their grading into each other) favor a ranking as mere varieties.(page 176)

emphasis added
David N. Stamos, Evolution and the Big Questions: Sex, Race, Religion, and Other Matters, 2008, p.134
External racial differences, interestingly, he thought were probably not adaptations to different climates and habitats but instead were primarily the result of sexual selection (see Darwin 1871 I, chs vi, vii, xix, xx, and xxi).(emphasis added)

Stan Giesbrecht (talk) 03:14, 18 May 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks for providing secondary sources, I've started checking through the references and modifying the text to accurately summarise what they say. Note I've changed your headings from "Distortion and Lies" and "propaganda", these fail WP:TALKNEW and WP:AGF: you really have to comply with WP:NPA. Regarding John P. Jackson; Nadine M. Weidman (2004). Race, Racism, and Science: Social Impact and Interaction. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 978-0-8135-3736-8. – this has some blatant errors, indicating that their focus is on race but they're not very well up on Darwin scholarship. They don't mention sexual selection, which rather contradicts their idea of "inalterable racial difference": will review other sources on this. . dave souza, talk 18:27, 30 May 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
1. Dave, I changed the headings back to their original names, as they are supposed to be “clear and specific”. They were concise and accurate, not inflammatory. Furthermore, WP:AGF clearly states that you don’t have to pretend good faith when there is clear evidence to the contrary, which, as I pointed out in the list, there was, in massive abundance. Also, I’ll look at WP:NPA when you look at WP:IDENTIFYUNCIVIL points 2d & 2e.
2. I moved this discussion to an entirely new section, which is what I should have started with. I trust you’ll find the name neutral.
3. It’s amazing that you will attack Jackson & Weidman as being “not very well up on Darwin scholarship” for allegedly getting some tangential details wrong, while at the same time defending Janet Browne who made contradictory claims on critical details, which has demonstrably misled very knowledgeable editors. It seems that you are impugning their work simply because they are too candid about topics that are, perhaps, too sensitive for you. As we all agree a minor error will not invalidate an entire work.
4. In particular, not mentioning sexual selection in no way “contradicts” the claim that Darwin thought human races were “basically unchangeable”, as these two topics, while not completely unrelated, are certainly not equivalent.
5. As you know, your recent edits removed some relevant and properly sourced material, so further editing is required here. . Stan Giesbrecht (talk) 04:16, 2 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

1. Dave, I modified some of your recent changes to the article as follows:
2. I removed the paragraph of background information, citing Bowler, that you added to section 2: “Part I: The evolution of man”, for the simple reason that this section is for a description of the content of Darwin’s book. Section 4: “Darwin's background issues and concerns” is where a discussion of the background and context would go, although there already is some discussion of Darwin’s opposition to slavery and his contact with the Fuegians there.
3. I rearranged the description of Darwin’s species-or-not discussion for human races to follow the order of the book, where Darwin first presented evidence supporting the ranking of races as distinct species and then presented evidence for the other side. Moving and rearranging makes it look like I changed most of the material, but I didn't.
4. Darwin’s argument of no fundamental gap between humans and animals is in more than just the first 2 chapters, so I changed that.
5. I reworded and added sources to some of the content that you removed, including a number of quotes from the book. I put the most important quotes into the article and others that seemed particularly helpful or important as quotes in the reference section. I wanted to add as many sources as I could, as I have been accused of original research far too many times.
6. Above all else, section 2 is a description of what Darwin wrote, so I tried to present things in that light and not dwell on the broader questions of why he wanted to discuss these issues or whether he was right or wrong, as there are other sections in the article for that. I know subsection 2.3 “Natural selection and civilised society” and section 3 “Part II and III: Sexual selection” contain a lot of extraneous information that should be pruned (or moved), but that is no reason to let things slide here. . Stan Giesbrecht (talk) 04:12, 6 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Detailed points on coverage of races[edit]

1. The statement "Darwin then identified the term subspecies as the most appropriate term for the classificatory rank of human races" was sourced to a questionable source which fails WP:BLOG, so I've removed it. The linked p. 227 notes "Some naturalists have lately employed the term "sub-species" to designate forms which possess many of the characteristics of true species, but which hardly deserve so high a rank", so the term was new: the preceding pages discuss how so-called races" are clearly inter-fertile at any opportunity, and "graduate into each other, and that it is hardly possible to discover clear distinctive character between them." The subspecies article indicates in modern usage subspecies are taxonomically distinct, and "do not usually interbreed in nature due to geographic isolation, sexual selection, or other factors". So, a reliable secondary source is needed. . . dave souza, talk 12:00, 17 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

1. Dave, the statement you removed cited Darwin's own TDOM, which you now claim is “a questionable source”. Words truly fail me when you say such silly things like that. As cited, on pp.227-228 Vol.1 Darwin wrote:
Now if we reflect on the weighty arguments, above given, for raising the races of man to the dignity of species, and the insuperable difficulties on the other side in defining them, the term "sub-species" might here be used with much propriety. But from long habit the term "race" will perhaps always be employed.
and on p.338 Vol.2 he added:
… man has been raised to his present state. But since he attained to the rank of manhood, he has diverged into distinct races, or as they may be more appropriately called sub-species. Some of these, for instance the Negro and European, are so distinct that, if specimens had been brought to a naturalist without any further information, they would undoubtedly have been considered by him as good and true species.
So, it's there in black and white, bolded and underlined. Note also that Darwin identified the reasons for raising human races to "the dignity of species" as "weighty arguments" and stated that human subspecies were "so distinct" that on an initial examination, a scientist "would undoubtedly [consider them] as good and true species."
2. You point out that the term subspecies was relatively new at the time, but so what? That's a red herring. You know very well that Darwin was answering the third of the three points he confined himself to in TDOM, which was to determine "the value of the differences between the so-called races of man."(p.3). You then claim that Darwin was not a competent taxonomist, but again, so what? From the subspecies article: “A taxonomist decides whether to recognize a subspecies or not”. Darwin made his decision to recognize human subspecies and it's there in black and white; whether you like it or not, whether he was right or wrong, Darwin’s claim is there. You can post your criticisms of him in another section if your heart so desires, but the content section is for content.
3. Your link to WP:BLOG is about whether blogs should have their own Wikipedia page; nothing about using them as sources. You made a recent post to the Charles Darwin talk page where you made the point I think you where trying to make here, which I copy & pasted here:

Hardly demonising to note that a VDARE blog by Steve Sailer clearly fails WP:BLOGS, or "censorship" to remove dubious interpretations lacking a good source. It's worth being aware of red flags about their position, which isn't one of Darwin scholarship. . dave souza, talk 11:01, 17 June 2016 (UTC)

4. I have to agree that with you, Dave, that Steve Sailor’s article fails WP:BLOGS... because it isn't self-published. WP:NEWSBLOGs are allowed, even though caution must be used, just like any source for Wikipedia. In this case, the article was published by VDARE which is owned/run by the highly qualified Peter Brimelow. We know that reliability and accuracy isn't a concern here because, first, the author has impeccable credentials (even if you are squeamish about his subject matter), and second, the article is in agreement with a simple and straight-forward reading of TDOM, which is itself a WP:RS. Sailor's piece is important to include as a source, not because it is needed for verification, but because Wikipedia strongly encourages using secondary sources when available, and also because I have been falsely accused of original research for using primary sources way to often.
5. Your whining that VDARE's position “isn't one of Darwin scholarship” without any regard to reliability and accuracy is proof of WP:CENSORSHIP. This is doubly so given your insistence that there are no concerns with Janet Browne's scholarship, even after I demonstrated that you yourself couldn't makes heads or tails of some of her convoluted claims and established red flags with her work. The proof is in the pudding that the "red flags" you raised here are based on your moral taboos; but these objections violate WP:COMPREHENSIVE. --Stan Giesbrecht (talk) 16:27, 18 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
For some reason quite a lot of single purpose accounts misunderstand WP:CENSORSHIP and proudly add it to the arsenal of blue links. However, its only effect is to cause eye-rolls, as is the 1970s newsgroup needling. Your arguments are just that—your arguments. Johnuniq (talk) 01:34, 19 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
1. Maybe I am just a little proud of my “arsenal of blue links”. I’ll take the needling; it’s only because of Wikipedia’s robust policies that I have been able to stand my ground and make some much needed corrections here.
2. For some reason some established editors misunderstand WP:OR. It’s not my argument that humans have diverged into distinct subspecies. It is only that of Charles Darwin, 1 of the 5 greatest scientists of all time, in answer to 1 of the 3 points to which he confined his second most famous book. That makes his WP:POV extremely notable; so what’s driving the resistance to properly reporting it?? Well, when it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, . . . --Stan Giesbrecht (talk) 04:41, 19 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Stan, your misrepresentation of Darwin's writing confirms the need to meet the requirement of PSTS policy: "Do not analyze, evaluate, interpret, or synthesize material found in a primary source yourself; instead, refer to reliable secondary sources that do so. . . dave souza, talk 17:18, 19 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, when you put it that way, I can totally see that I have been completely misrepresenting Darwin’s writings. Since you are so smart, Dave, you are the perfect person to ask: What did Darwin mean when he claimed that human races “may be more appropriately called sub-species”? --Stan Giesbrecht (talk) 23:43, 19 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Stan, it will certainly help if you now see that you've been misrepresenting what CD wrote. However, I'm just an editor like yourself, and not "the perfect person to ask" – for any disputable claim, we need good quality secondary sources, as already discussed. As for smartness, on talk pages discuss improvements to the article, not other editors.
Regarding your question, "may be more appropriately called sub-species" is clearly not the same as "Darwin then identified the term subspecies as the most appropriate term for the classificatory rank of human races." Your extract above omits the context from the same paragraph; "Nevertheless all the races agree in so many unimportant details of structure and in so many mental peculiarities, that these can be accounted for only through inheritance from a common progenitor; and a progenitor thus characterised would probably have deserved to rank as man." There's also the following paragraph, which ends with "all will have been continually blended through free intercrossing."
You say above "it's there in black and white", but there's a lot of to-and-fro in Darwin's writing, which is why a good secondary source is needed to avoid the unintentional fallacy of quoting out of context. . . . dave souza, talk 04:20, 20 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
1. Dave, thank you for your helpful explanation. It would have been much more helpful if you would have provided your explanation at the time of reversion, which is really the minimum standard under WP:BRD. Wikipedia policy is to properly explain a reversion, especially given that I had already done my very best to explain on the talk page the justification for my edits.
2. As you suggested, I changed the wording to read: “Darwin then identified the term subspecies as a more appropriate term for the classificatory rank of human races.”
3. You wrote: “Your extract above omits the context from the same paragraph”. In fact, the sentence you quote is on a different topic altogether: the monogenism / polygenism debate (which is covered in the next paragraph of the article). Darwin is moving to the second part of his intention “to inquire what is the value of the differences between them under a classificatory point of view, and how they have originated.”(start of Chapter 7, p.214). The first part of the paragraph was explaining the value of the differences between the races and this sentence is explaining how they originated. In Chapter 7 he considers different forms of polygenism, including:
If the races of man were descended, as supposed by some naturalists, from two or more distinct species, which had differed as much, or nearly as much, from each other, as the orang differs from the gorilla, it can hardly be doubted that marked differences in the structure of certain bones would still have been discoverable in man as he now exists.(p.231)
The sentence you quoted is succinctly explaining why human races didn't evolve from different ape species, as some where suggesting at the time, and explaining that the last common ancestor of the races "would probably have deserved to rank as man", that is, was fully human. It's true that there is some to-and-fro in Chapter 7, but he brings it together nicely at the end. His position is abundantly clear if you read the concluding chapter carefully with an open mind.
4. I also removed the “s” from “mammals groups” changing it to “mammal groups”.
5. With respect to the “fallacy of quoting out of context”, let me just say that those living in glass houses should be careful about throwing stones. --Stan Giesbrecht (talk) 17:18, 20 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Still misusing VDARE as a secondary source, so I've removed it until you come up with something better, preferably a source which shows the context. The remainder of the subsection has other questionable points, which I'll come back to once I've had more time to consider sources. . dave souza, talk 19:47, 20 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Dave, there is always room for improvement of wording and sources here and, if done in this light, then I very much look forward to your edits. I want to implore you to respect WP:NPOV, which you have seriously violated in the past, and also WP:COMPREHENSIVE, which absolutely demands coverage of the points that Darwin highlights as being the "sole object of this work" (p.2). Thanks. --Stan Giesbrecht (talk) 17:13, 22 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

For the record, I reverted one of Stan Giesbrecht's recent edits but my revert is not recorded in the history because another editor was slightly ahead of me. My edit summary was "none of us can WP:BLUDGEON a topic to overcome WP:CONSENSUS; perhaps everyone else is wrong, but that is how things stand at the moment". Johnuniq (talk) 10:14, 29 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

1. ‎Volunteer Marek (VM) is a true edit warrior, reverting this and this edit without explanation. VM then accused me of edit warring when I asked for an explanation. One look at VM’s talk page shows a continuing pattern of such behaviour, contrary to the policy of collaborative editing here at Wikipedia.
2. Johnuniq, your approach to consensus is misguided, as it requires a discussion of the relevant issues on the talk page, something you never engage in. In this edit you tell me I should stop editing on this topic, when in fact, it is you who should join the discussion or stop your disruptive reversions. You don’t make constructive edits to the article or reply to any of my concerns. All you do is complain that my posts are too long, I cite too many sources, and the list goes on. You even acknowledge that you simply don’t care if I am right and “everyone else is wrong”. Everyone can see what you are doing: providing muscle for the WP:OWNER, as you’ve done for years. Obviously the “Darwin hagiography lobby” (thanks for the term, Logicus) will be happy with your efforts, but not everyone else is.
3. In fact, Dave Souza and I have already discussed this issue and I have responded to the concerns expressed. He wanted me to avoid using the words “the most appropriate term” so I changed that and he wanted me to not cite VDARE, so please stop saying there is no consensus. --Stan Giesbrecht (talk) 21:17, 3 July 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks to Volunteer Marek and Johnuniq for undoing disruptive edits. Hope to focus more on improving the article, as time permits. . dave souza, talk 14:29, 5 July 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks, that confirms the need to base the article on scholarly sources which show the context of Darwin's wording. In this instance, the words “the most appropriate term” were not in the cited source. Am still working on this section, and appreciate other inputs. . dave souza, talk 14:29, 5 July 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@My very best wishes: Could you please explain to me in what way you think this would be confusing? Do you think it would mislead modern readers as to what Darwin thought about the classification of human races? Do you think it would mislead modern readers about the actual classification of human races? Thanks. --Stan Giesbrecht (talk) 07:51, 6 July 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It tells "Darwin then identified the term subspecies as a more appropriate term for the classificatory rank of human races". This statement is highly misleading for a modern reader because what Darwin actually means (using modern terminology!) is not subspecies, but biological populations. However, the concept of genetically divergent populations was not developed at his time. These edits distort views by Darwin. My very best wishes (talk) 13:06, 6 July 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Definition of Polygenism[edit]

1. Dave in your recent edit you claim that Bowler defines polygenism as humans are separate species. In fact, Bowler (p.181) doesn't say this, but rather that there were some polygenists who held the belief that blacks were a separate species. This is consistent with your post (at Talk:OTOOS):

Regarding your removal from the TDOM page of the point that polygenism = human races are different species and monogenism = humans are all one species", this was increasingly the case in the disputes over slavery from the 1840s to the 1870s, so will have to be clarified there.

The fact that something can increase means that it is not defined that way. For example, it can never increasingly be the case that 2+2=4. Either 2+2 equals 4 or it doesn't, whether or not people increasingly believe it to equal 4. Similarly, if polygenists increasingly believed that human races were separate species, then it can't be defined that way, because some creationists believed that God created separate pairs for each race, who were nevertheless all the same species.
2. The word comes from polygenesis; genesis means the origin of something, with poly meaning multiple in contrast to mono which means single. Thus, the monogenism / polygenism debate is about the number of origins for human races, not their current classificatory rank. On page 229 Darwin himself draws a distinction between the origin of the races and the question of single or multiple species. Thus, the the dictionary citation you removed was correct: polygenism = human races have multiple origins, and monogenism = human races have a single origin. (I used the url from the google search, as the Merriam-Webster url links to a paywall.)
3. I removed your comment linking polygenism to racial inferiority because 1) this is the content section, and 2) many monogenists, including Darwin, also believed in racial inferiority. --Stan Giesbrecht (talk) 21:17, 3 July 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
4. I tried copy & pasting the Merriam-Webster url from the google search for polygenism, but Wikipedia would not allow this link to be saved for some reason. So, ironically, if you google polygenism, and click the Merriam-Webster link, you can see the definition, but not if you click the Wikipedia link. --Stan Giesbrecht (talk) 23:38, 3 July 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Dave souza: With regard to your recent edit, Dave, what do you call a Young Earth Creationist who recognizes that all humans can interbreed, and who believes that God specially created multiple pairs of humans, one for each race, and who believes all humans always were and still are part of the same human species? Would this person be a monogenist or a polygenist? --Stan Giesbrecht (talk) 07:40, 6 July 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi Stan, I'd call them misguided, but would look to scholarly secondary sources for what they'd be called in the context of the time. What do you think we should call someone like Josiah C. Nott who, according to Jackson & Weidman, "took the final, complete polygenist step of arguing that the races had been created separately" and held that "As each genus of plants or animals was comprised of different species, so too was the human genus, and each species had been created for, and thus was particularly suited to, its own particular climate." Slight anachronism, as the term "polygenist" was coined in 1857 by Notts' colleague George Gliddon. Bonus points if you can provide the label used before then! . . dave souza, talk 08:56, 6 July 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Dave souza: Josiah Nott was a polygenist; we both already agreed on that, so your question is clearly just a distraction. I am not interested in your bonus points; I want my question answered. (What an amazing concept: someone asks a question because they want that question answered!) Dave, would a YECist who believes that human races were separately created and that humans are all part of one interbreeding species be a monogenist or a polygenist? --Stan Giesbrecht (talk) 16:03, 6 July 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Stan, wrong place: this is the talk page for improving the article, and WP:NOTAFORUM. Since you want your question answered, take it to Wikipedia:Reference desk/Science. . . dave souza, talk 16:36, 6 July 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
1. Amazing Dave. You tell me to discuss improving the article here, yet when I do, you tell me I am at the “wrong place”. Why do you tell me this? Precisely because you know the meaning of polygenism is about the origin of the races and not their present state. I am trying to improve the accuracy of the article, something you are obstructing with your disruptive editing. Jackson and Weidman on pp.43-44 state: “The conservative end of the spectrum was occupied by Courtet, a hard-line polygenist who believed races belonged to different species” which demonstrates that not all polygenists believed races to be different species, as does your refusal to answer one of the simplest questions of all time.
2. The fact that many polygenists at the time did believe that humans were separate species might be relevant for the background information section, but Darwin separated these 2 concepts in TDOM and they should not be conflated in the content section of the article. --Stan Giesbrecht (talk) 19:02, 6 July 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Good point about the need to cover these points in an introductory background section, unfortunate that you deleted info. Your question is in the wrong place, not least because Courtet has no evident relevance to the book. CD refers to Nott and Glidden and worked extensively from their book, and your ideas of accuracy lack supporting secondary sources. . . dave souza, talk 23:11, 6 July 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Why is the contrast between monogenism and polygenism being removed though? Volunteer Marek (talk) 20:59, 6 July 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This paragraph needed much more about what's in the book, Desmond & Moore cover it well and I've reworked the paragraph on that basis to show by the context the relevant meaning of the two terms. Good point about showing the meaning of these "-isms" in an introductory section, which should cover their relevance to Darwin's life and work leading up to the book. . . dave souza, talk 23:16, 6 July 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just modified one external link on The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex. Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, you may follow the instructions on the template below to fix any issues with the URLs.

This message was posted before February 2018. After February 2018, "External links modified" talk page sections are no longer generated or monitored by InternetArchiveBot. No special action is required regarding these talk page notices, other than regular verification using the archive tool instructions below. Editors have permission to delete these "External links modified" talk page sections if they want to de-clutter talk pages, but see the RfC before doing mass systematic removals. This message is updated dynamically through the template {{source check}} (last update: 18 January 2022).

  • If you have discovered URLs which were erroneously considered dead by the bot, you can report them with this tool.
  • If you found an error with any archives or the URLs themselves, you can fix them with this tool.

Cheers.—InternetArchiveBot (Report bug) 03:15, 12 December 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Chapter 7: Races[edit]

I wish to create another section giving the main points about Races mentioned by Darwin in chapter 7. I would give the main points only without an opinion or interpretation.

The points are not ready yet. I'm just opening a discussion about this first. Musa Isa 2020 (talk) 03:52, 21 August 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]