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September 27, 2012 3:13 PM   Subscribe

The Man Who Wasn't Darwin. 2009 was Darwin's Year. 2013 will be the Year of Alfred Russel Wallace. The title and last link lead to a recent, excellent website, Wallace Online. Read the biography and proceed from there.
posted by Substrata (6 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
More information on WALLACE100, the 100th anniversary of Wallace’s death in 2013.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:58 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

How interesting. I'm definitely saving a few of these to read when I'm done with work. Thanks for the post.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 5:16 PM on September 27, 2012

I hope Wallace gets due recognition at last, but it isn't likely.

Even on the most charitable reading it seems to me that Darwin frankly cheated Wallace out of the credit he deserved. It's true that Wallace took it deferentially and it's true that Darwin was generally a better scientist. It's true that Darwin's friends played a role (or that Darwin tried to disown responsibility by hiding behind others). None of that alters the fact that Wallace was the first to try to publish, and that Darwin exploited his own prestige and Wallace's personal trust to prevent him succeeding and grab credit back for himself.

But the Darwin juggernaut won't have it that besides being an exceptional scientist he was cowardly, selfish and unfairly privileged: popular myth requires that all great scientists are also saintly.
posted by Segundus at 2:06 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

I hope Wallace gets due recognition at last, but it isn't likely.

Maybe rebranding evolution as Wallacism or something similar would make it more palatable to certain segments of the population.
posted by TedW at 4:15 AM on September 28, 2012

The Wallace awards?
posted by X4ster at 12:14 PM on September 28, 2012

I teach a section about the interactions between Darwin and Wallace in my physical anthropology course, and have students discuss whether they think Darwin acted ethically and what he should have done. Darwin spent a good 25 years writing about barnacles, sort of twiddling his fingers and trying not to upset Victorian England between voyaging on the Beagle and publishing (David Quammen has a fantastic book about this period of time, The Reluctant Mister Darwin, and I have them read an excerpt from it about Darwin and Wallace and their interactions).

Anyway, one of my students wrote - in an assignment that she turned in to me - "I think Darwin was kind of a pussy. Honestly, he should have just manned up and published instead of obsessing over barnacle penises." I feel that sums up the situation pretty succinctly.
posted by ChuraChura at 12:45 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

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