Shruti Santosh and Anya Plutynski will contribute a chapter to a forthcoming volume addressing common misconceptions about Darwin and his work
PNP PhD student Shruti Santosh and Professor Anya Plutynski will contribute a chapter entitled "Myth 12: That Darwin’s theory brought an instant and immediate revolution in the life sciences" to a forthcoming volume, edited by Kostas Kampourakis, entitled Darwin Mythology: Debunking Myths, Correcting Falsehoods (Cambridge University Press). A description of their chapter follows.
It’s commonly held that Darwin’s Origin of Species led to a “revolution” in science. Our aim here is to consider one particular claim: namely, that Darwin’s theory brought about an immediate change in the life sciences. We will argue here that this claim is false – a myth. Unfortunately, such claims can be found in popular science writing biology textbooks, and even in work by scientists, educators and philosophers.
Some of Darwin’s ideas – e.g., of common descent – were in wide circulation before the publication of the Origin, and thus not revolutionary in the sense of “novel.” Moreover, Darwin’s ideas regarding the major mechanism of descent, natural selection, were not immediately accepted, and so arguably not “revolutionary” either, at least in the sense of leading to a rapid change.