Thursday, November 12, 2015

On the Origin of Species voted most influential academic book in history. Oh this is not going to go over well.

Courtesy of the Guardian:

Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species has been voted the most influential academic book ever written, hailed as “the supreme demonstration of why academic books matter” and “a book which has changed the way we think about everything”. 

After a list of the top 20 academic books was pulled together by expert academic booksellers, librarians and publishers to mark the inaugural Academic Book Week, the public was asked to vote on what they believed to be the most influential. With titles in the running including A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft, George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, and Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations, Darwin’s explanation of his theory of evolution was the public’s overwhelming favourite, with 26% of the vote, said organisers. 

Professor Andrew Prescott of the University of Glasgow called Darwin’s 1859 study “the supreme demonstration of why academic books matter”. “Darwin used meticulous observation of the world around us, combined with protracted and profound reflection, to create a book which has changed the way we think about everything – not only the natural world, but religion, history and society,” he said. “Every researcher, no matter whether they are writing books, creating digital products or producing artworks, aspires to produce something as significant in the history of thought as Origin of Species.”

Yeah religious conservatives are going to lose their shit over this. 

I can personally attest to the influence of this book in my life, and even in my daughter's life.

They say that the best way to create an Atheist is to have them read the Bible. However it is not the only book with that kind of power.

Quite a few years back when my daughter was attending that uber fundamentalist church in Georgia, and coming home with these crazy ideas about evolution, rather than argue about it everyday with her I challenged her to read this book instead.

To her credit she did exactly that, and it did indeed change her mind completely.

Now she is not only a strong supporter of Evolution, and of science in general, but she is an even more ardent Atheist than her old man.

So yes, this book is powerful indeed.

Perhaps THAT is why the Religious Right fears it so.


  1. Anonymous4:07 AM

    Professor Andrew Prescott of the University of Glasgow called Darwin’s 1859 study “the supreme demonstration of why academic books matter”.
    Amen! :)


  2. I knew the public voting didn't happen in the US. Not surprised Darwin's book was most influential. If Americans voted it would be the Bible of some drivel by a RWNJ - there are so many to choose from!!

  3. The fact that God hasn't shown up in a really publicized way to take credit for "His creation" convinces me that evolution is correct.

  4. Anonymous5:36 AM

    But how many welders has it influenced?

  5. 66gardeners6:00 AM

    WOW This is off-topic but I found it very note worthy: I'm thinking the rats are scurrying at we speak.

    Ben Carson Wants Jail Time For Health Care Fraud -- Except For Friends

    Ben Carson has maintained a business relationship with a close friend convicted of defrauding insurance companies and Carson testified on his behalf, even as the candidate has called for such crimes to be punished harshly

    In 2013 as he prepared to launch his presidential campaign, Carson said those convicted of health care fraud should go to prison for at least a decade and be forced to forfeit "all of one's personal possessions".

    Pittsburgh dentist Alfonso A. Costa pleaded guilty to a felony count of health care fraud after an FBI probe into his oral surgery practice found he had charged for procedures he never performed, according to court records. At Costa's 2008 sentencing hearing, Carson described the dentist as "one my closest, if not my very closest friend. "We became friends about a decade ago because we discovered that we were so much alike and shared the same values and principles that govern our lives," Carson told the judge, adding that their families vacationed together and that they were involved in "joint projects." "Next to my wife of 32 years, there is no one on this planet that I trust more than Al Costa," Carson said.

    Costa has served on the board of Carson's charity, the Carson Scholars Fund, and continues to lead the charity's fundraising efforts in the Pittsburgh area to provide $1,000 college scholarships to children in need.

    Before his criminal conviction and the revocation of his license to practice dentistry, Costa built a multimillion-dollar fortune through commercial real estate. Investments Carson and his wife made through Costa earn the couple between $200,000 and $2 million a year, according to financial records that Carson was required to file when he declared his candidacy. Costa also continues to promote his involvement with Carson's charity as part of his real estate business, prominently featuring the logo of the Carson Scholars Fund on the company's website. His son has worked with Carson's presidential campaign and a political committee founded by the retired neurosurgeon.

    Doug Watts, the campaign's spokesman, said Wednesday he was unable to immediately respond to specific questions about land deals involving Carson and Costa. The AP contacted Watts on Tuesday and again Wednesday. "I will confirm they are best friends and that they do hold business investments together," Watts said. Costa did not respond to messages seeking comment.

  6. Anonymous6:04 AM

    I'm pretty fond of A Brief History of Time, but this book's is good. Darwin actually was pretty religious, but as a scientist, he sticks to objective analysis.

    1. Anonymous7:08 AM

      "In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an Atheist in the sense of denying the existence of God. I think that generally (and more and more as I grow older), that an Agnostic would be the more correct description of my state of mind."----Charles Darwin

      So no, he wasn't "pretty religious".

  7. 66gardeners6:04 AM

    a nice campaign poster Carson with Costa's mug shot and underneath, "Next to my wife of 32 years, there is no one on this planet that I trust more than Al Costa."

  8. Here is another book that blew my mind -- a real hard chew to get into but well worth it. For me, it completely explains religion and its rise and its hold on the present-day, unevolved bicameral mind.

    The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind Paperback – Aug 15 2000
    by Julian Jaynes (Author)

    Now out in paper (wow) -- I got the hard copy many years ago at a yard sale for a buck. Liked the title altho didn't know what it meant.

    "At the heart of this classic, seminal book is Julian Jaynes's still-controversial thesis that human consciousness did not begin far back in animal evolution but instead is a learned process that came about only three thousand years ago and is still developing. The implications of this revolutionary scientific paradigm extend into virtually every aspect of our psychology, our history and culture, our religion -- and indeed our future."

    See also reviews of it.

    Dec 04, 2008Matt rated it 4 of 5 stars
    A mind-fuck of the highest order. A work of polymathemetical genius, probably wrong on many accounts but absolutely original in its approach. Extremely readable, unpretentious prose and probings into one of life's coolest mysteries. You'll never read the Odyssey the same way again, or think about schizophrenia or Ancient Sumeria in the same way. Its speculative power has made many a head spin, I think.

    1. Leland12:33 PM

      Sorry, Barbara, but I would have to disagree with JJ's thesis about human consciousness being only around 3000 years old.

      Of course, part of the problem is the definition of "consciousness". Personally, I feel that human consciousness had to exist prior to creativity. Yes, there are examples of animals using tools, but those are sticks and rocks and thorns and pieces of grass. I mean objects that were created by FORMING using chipping or weaving or sewing. The oldest shoe that I know of is 5500 years old!

      Then there are the burial sites found that are much older than 3000 years. Is it possible to have those without consciousness?

      And then there is the art work left behind.

      And the Neolithic period began around 9000 BC! All sorts of towns and the like.

      No, too many things that contradict the statement.

      Bear in mind, I haven't read the book and I am commenting ONLY on the quote you posted, so I cannot comment on anything else from it.

  9. Randall6:35 AM

    "...a supporter of evolution..." Gryph?

    Evolution is neither "supported" nor "denied"
    Like all science: evolution is either understood or not.

    1. Anonymous7:27 AM

      Technically correct, Randal, but those who don't understand it, usually deny it. Also, those who have faith that the bible is correct, don't even try to understand, and their denial is vehement.


    2. Evolution is proven and supported, and is a scientific law, not a theory, similar to the law of gravity. Very few scientist will deny it’s not correct.

    3. Evolution is proven and supported by both fossils and now by DNA. The so called “theory of evolution” throughout the world is universally accepted as being fact. It’s hard to discredit DNA studies.

    4. Randall, how about, "she is not only a strong supporter of the understanding of Evolution, and of science in general, but …"?

      Mildred, how about, "those who don't understand it, usually deny what they imagine it to be."?

  10. Anonymous10:11 AM

    Though some of Darwin's hypotheses have been proven wrong/misguided, evolution is a scientific cornerstone. If Darwin had had the diagnostic instrumentation we have today, he would have gone much further in his treatise.

    Only the ignorant, who rely solely on a stone age book of parables, can deny evolution.

  11. Our Lad10:28 AM

    Try explaining this to that idiot savant Dr. Carson. And when your fact challenged friends babble to you that he's a BRAIN surgeon and how can you say he's unfit or nuts or living in an alternate reality you can simply tell them that although you enjoy watching a video of a nine year old blind Ukrainian boy who can flawlessly render Gershwin's Rhapsody In Blue after only hearing it once you don't necessarily want to present him with the fuckin nuclear launch codes.

  12. Anonymous4:20 PM

    It still amazes me he wrote it in the mid 1800's and it still holds true today.

    1. Leland10:09 AM

      The era something was thought of, doesn't alter the validity of the thought. Archimedes hit upon specific gravity around 250 BC. Age hasn't altered the field one bit.

      I am more astounded at the observational genius needed to gather the information and collate it to FORM the field of evolution. Then, of course, there is(are?) the balls needed to make the idea public!


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