Steve Jones gets it wrong

Steve Jones is a wonderful chap: a great science communicator with a marvellously dry sense of humour. I won't hear a word said against him. Even when he goes on about human evolution being over (an example of overstating one's case to get one's point across if ever I heard one).

But now Prof. Jones is saying that he wishes people would forget about Charles Darwin.

Prof. Jones doesn't really want us to forget about Charles Darwin. He wants us to concentrate on Darwin the scientist, not Darwin the man. He also wishes for an end, he says, to the squabbles about the social, moral, legal, political, historical, ethical and theological implications of his work.

Does biology really need such a cult of personality? he asks. No, of course it doesn't.

But it's both naive and plain wrong to suggest that people shouldn't debate—and even squabble about—the social, moral, legal, political, historical, ethical and theological implications of Charles Darwin's (or any other scientist's) work. Science has implications on society. These implications need to be discussed by the whole of society—not just scientists.

True, people tend to squabble a good deal more about Charles Darwin than about any other great scientist. But that's because Darwin's science had and still has such profound implications on society.

Besides, science needs great and interesting figures to inspire future scientists. And historians need great and interesting figures to study. And ordinary people need great and interesting figures to find, well, great and interesting. And you don't get much greater and much more interesting than Charles Robert Darwin.

By all means celebrate Darwin's science, but let's not forget the man behind it to.

Richard Carter, FCD

Writer and photographer Richard Carter, FCD is the founder of the Friends of Charles Darwin. He lives in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.WebsiteNewsletterMastodonetc…

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