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Question: Did Wallace really, as some claim, "scoop" Darwin on the theory of natural selection?

Answer: No. While Wallace had been thinking in evolutionary terms for many years--in fact, one might reasonably argue (because of his very early interest in social evolution), for as long as Darwin had--the natural selection concept in particular did not occur to him until 1858, by which time Darwin had been studying the idea for some twenty years. Wallace's 1855 paper 'On the Law Which Has Regulated the Introduction of New Species' (S20), which hinted strongly at an evolutionary position, nevertheless contains not even a trace of natural selection-like thinking. Moreover . . . True, Darwin had published nothing concerning natural selection by the time he received Wallace's essay 'On the Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely From the Original Type' (S43) in mid-1858--and true, Darwin's contribution to the 1 July 1858 introduction of natural selection to the Linnean Society consisted only of two unpublished writings--but it must be remembered that Wallace's essay itself was also an "unpublished writing," and that he had not asked Darwin to submit it for publication. Thus, the overall presentation consisted of three unpublished, unintended-for-publication writings, and it cannot be claimed even technically that "Wallace got into print with a finished work" on natural selection before Darwin did. In fact, Wallace's first natural selection-related analysis (that he did intend for publication, that is!) did not appear until late 1863, a whole four years after On the Origin of Species was published.

Posted by Gopi | April 4, 2007 2:19 PM

Wow, somebody already beat me to debunking the Wallace canard.

So I'll just settle for this: Charles, you forgot Tiger Woods.

Posted by Joe | April 4, 2007 3:17 PM

America remains sadly racist and antisemitic. Obama's popularity comes from racist liberals who give Obama money in order to appear not racist. It's the same as hipster's claiming to be "cool with Jews". If Obama wasn't black most of these so called liberals wouldn't give him a penny. Blacks are still oppressed in America though less that Jews. During this time of sacred Passover it's important to remind our hearts of the oppression in this world.

Posted by Shoshana | April 4, 2007 4:26 PM

Man, this is just so last century.

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 4, 2007 5:16 PM

After four days layed up with a vicious bug at a friend's house I plowed through half of something I would otherwise never have picked up, Obama's The Audacity of Hope. Right now I'm just about convinced he is our ONLY hope. Check it out and tell me when was the last time an elected official demonstrated such insight and depth of understanding and compassion. This guy really IS fucking amazing.

Posted by Grant Cogswell | April 5, 2007 1:03 AM

I'm a massive paranoid tool. Anti-semitism, anti-semitism, anti-semitism! Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Posted by Shoshana | April 5, 2007 9:49 AM

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