When I was writing “Dixon, Not Darwin,” about a viciously racist passage sometimes misattributed to Darwin but actually taken from Thomas F. Dixon Jr.’s novel The Clansman: An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan (1905), I was going to invoke a further consideration to demonstrate that Darwin was not the source. It was hardly necessary, of course: the passage clearly appears in Dixon’s novel and not in any of Darwin’s works or letters, the passage is more overwrought and purple than anything in Darwin, and anyhow Darwin was remarkably progressive for his time on matters of race, as Adrian Desmond and James Moore document extensively in their Darwin’s Sacred Cause (2009). In the event, I decided that the consideration wasn’t conclusive and omitted any mention of it. But I hate to waste the research, so I’m writing about it now.
In part 1 of this Q&A, I asked John Mead, a Dallas teacher who befriended Lee Berger, the discoverer of Homo naledi, about how he came to know about the new hominid species in advance, and he answered in detail. Now I’ve got a simple request for him…
Stephanie Keep: Sum up the importance of Homo naledi in one sentence.
It should be pretty obvious by now that I’m pretty excited about the discovery of Homo naledi announced on September 10. Sure, there are some known unknowns, but it’s just such a cool story!
Every year, as August slouches toward September, public schools around the country resume classes—and bemoan the difficulty of finding enough teachers:
I both love and loathe this week’s fossil. I love it because every time I look at it, I think of what Jessica (the MCZ’s invertebrate collections guru) said: It looks like it’s wearing adorable little boxing gloves. But I loathe it because… well. These things are terrifying.
Daniel Urban is a PhD student in the Department of Animal Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He studies development and embryology of modern mammals to better understand the changes observed in the fossil record. Stephanie Keep met Dan at ComSciCon and can tell you he’s an all around great guy.
Back in 2014, there was a controversy in Arizona surrounding John Huppenthal, then the state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction. It was alleged, and subsequently confirmed, that Huppenthal pseudonymously posted a bunch of comments—variously characterized in the media as harsh, inflammatory, and even racist—on various political websites over the course of several years. Darwin was apparently among Huppenthal’s targets. The Arizona Republic reported that in 2013, he posted, “It was Darwin, not Hitler, who named Germans the master race. … It was Darwin who expressed approval of eliminating both Jews and Africans.” Huppenthal subsequently admitted to making the comments and offered a quasi-apology: “I sincerely regret if my comments have offended anyone.” It apparently wasn’t enough to mollify his constituents: he was defeated in his bid for the Republican nomination for superintendent in 2014 and was duly replaced by Diane Douglas in January 2015.