Darwin's Ghosts

Darwin's Ghosts

The Secret History of Evolution

Book - 2012
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Evolution was not discovered single-handedly, Rebecca Stott argues, contrary to what has become standard lore, but is an idea that emerged over many centuries, advanced by daring individuals across the globe who had the imagination to speculate on nature's extraordinary ways, and who had the courage to articulate such speculations at a time when to do so was often considered heresy.
Publisher: New York : Spiegel & Grau, 2012.
ISBN: 9781400069378
Characteristics: xviii, 396 p. :,ill., maps ;,25 cm.


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Apr 19, 2019

The description, reviews and other comments are all very good and well written.
The fact that they glaze over; but which is overwhelmingly apparent in the book is that it was the power of religious orthodoxy that in every case impeded and challenged and persecuted any theories that so much as hinted that God was not the creator of all nature including species.
Everyone has heard how Galileo was threatened with being burned alive if he did not retract his statement that the Earth went around the Sun instead of the other way around.
Most of these people faced prison or worst if the church controlled government found out about them publishing evolutionary ideas. Even Charles Darwin suffered under their persecution and attempts to try to force science to jive with their religious beliefs; terrorfied he waited over 20 years to publish his famous theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. Only when Alfred Wallace presented a similar idea did Darwin finally overcome his fear of the church and publish.
Even here in America with our constitutional requirement of separation of Church and State religion as tried to undermine science even to this day.
I remember well as recently as the end of the 20th century how religious fanatics tried to hijack our public education system first claiming that Creationism was a legitimate substitute for a real science curriculum then when that didn't work they tried to say that Evolution was a religious belief and not a science and should not be allowed to be taught in the schools. Fortunately that nonsense didn't work either.
Just imagine how much more advanced science might be if it had not had to fight such a long and hard uphill battle against ignorant religious persecution.

Mitsouko1 Feb 22, 2017

Possible book discussion title

Mar 25, 2014

Extremely engaging read, was sorry to put it down. Stott brings the long history of natural philosophy into perspective through the lives of those whose ideas shaped the world as we see it today. Her narrative sweeps through time and space and takes us along for the ride.

Norman C. Smith
May 18, 2013

This is a good book for those who are interested in learning about the development of scientific ideas over a period of millennia (Aristotle to Darwin). It is generally well-written, though a little sluggish in places, but worth the effort. I was particularly impressed in how challenging it was for each of the individuals described to make a living while theorizing, and in many cases to develop the courage to present their findings and hypotheses in the face of orthodox thinking. If you are looking for a book on the development of the theory of natural selection, though, it would be better to focus on Darwin and Wallace. And ... ignore the word "Secret" in the title; it is just a come-on, not to be taken seriously.

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