Torn Rubbers' unacknowledged masterpiece, Charlie is my Darwin, while commendably celebrating the work of Charles Darwin, makes a number of minor factual errors, viz:
- Darwin did not sail to countries far and near—his first landfall on his circumnavigation was in South America, which is a considerable distance from his native England. His penultimate landfall was equally distant, so he did not sail to countries near at all (unless you count his holiday to France prior to his Beagle trip).
- In the context of the verse in which they appear, the lines He spent his youth in search of truth / A-followin' his idea imply that Darwin thought of his "idea" (evolution by means of Natural Selection) before he set sail. He actually came up with the idea after his return to Britain.
- The song states Although he'd borne the church's scorn, / He faced 'em without fear. Firstly, Darwin was terrified of controversy, and seldom faced anyone - he left that to Huxley and Company. Secondly, and somewhat pedantically, the church is singular, so he should have faced it, not (th)em.
- The song states He spent his wealth and risked his health / To share his Big Idea. Darwin remained very comfortably off until the end of his days; he was never in any danger of spending his wealth.
- The song refers to Mendel's beans. Gregor Mendel, the father of genetics, actually grew peas - but peas doesn't rhyme with genes, and beans does.
Rubbers' reference to Gould still arguing the toss was, however, not a mistake: the song was written before the untimely death of Stephen Jay Gould.
This article was published in 2000.