Talk:Notable Charles Darwin misquotes

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Merge proposal[edit]

Some of these quotes have already been mentioned as being misquoted on the Charles Darwin page, there is no need for a separate page for misquotations of a single person, and much of the material that is not on the Darwin page can be added to it in properly formatted form. ~ Kalki 00:25, 27 May 2008 (UTC)

Since misquoting Darwin is a special sort of misquoting because it serves an activist-creationist goal of mocking evolution and discrediting it, I am against merging.CrashTestSmartie (talk) 16:33, 18 March 2016 (UTC)
Given the limited number of notable misquotes that sounds reasonable. Material with more potential like his books (which can be quoted from to our heart's content) are another matter entirely, but here there isn't much potential. Richard001 09:42, 9 February 2009 (UTC)
I fully endorse the proposed merger. There is something ironic about using a separate context like this article to make a point about taking things out of context to make a point. The article is a fine essay, but its narrow focus does not fit well within Wikiquote's fundamental framework of pages on People, Productions, and Themes. Information about the abuses reported here is useful, and should be included in the main article to the extent that it does not unduly belabor the point. ~ Ningauble 14:03, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
I also support a merger; there's only a couple quotes here, not enough to justify a separate page. ~ Robin Lionheart 16:30, 4 November 2011 (UTC)

Undounbtedly these should be merged, and I shall do so in a few days.--Collingwood (talk) 23:36, 29 December 2012 (UTC)

eugenics and Darwin and Darrow[edit]

"Hence we must bear without complaining the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely the weaker and inferior members of society not marrying so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased, though this is more to be hoped for than expected, by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage".
Marriage restriction is an eugenics policy. The Expelled Exposed website does not quote this last passage. So how and who writes: "the full passage makes it clear that Darwin was not advocating eugenics."? In the Expelled Exposed website there is not the full passage!

"and by the 1920s evolutionary biologists were criticizing eugenics. Clarence Darrow, who defended the teaching of human evolution in the Scopes trial, wrote a scathing repudiation of eugenics"?
very strange considering that in the text book used by Scopes we read: "If such people were lower animals, we would probably kill them off to prevent them from spreading. Humanity will not allow this, but we do have the remedy of separating the sexes in asylums or other places and in various ways preventing intermarriage and the possibilities of perpetuating such a low and degenerate race. Remedies of this sort have been tried successfully in Europe and are now meeting with some success in this country". Let's remember that Darrow defended Scopes sayng that "the state required teachers to use a textbook that explicitly described and endorsed the theory of evolution"; the same textbook endorses the eugenics. So Darrow defends also the last theory?
Anyway there we are talking about Darwin's opinion and an opinion made by a lawyer in 1925 is not the matter. --Domics 07:32, 14 July 2011 (UTC)

races and varieties[edit]

"Races" means "varieties"? and so? is this a defense for Darwin?
First, in the "Descent of Man" "races" means "sub-species" and not a generic "variety"(Darwin writes: " But since he attained to the rank of manhood, he has diverged into distinct races, or as they may be more fitly called, sub-species", in Chapter XXI ).
But let' see: "At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races/varieties of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races/varieties throughout the world."
Who can tell us what are the "civilised races/varieties" according Darwin?
An aid:
"I could show fight on natural selection having done and doing more for the progress of civilization than you seem inclined to admit. Remember what risk the nations of Europe ran, not so many centuries ago of being overwhelmed by the Turks, and how ridiculous such an idea now is! The more civilized so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world. ". (C. Darwin's letter to W. Graham, The life and letters of Charles Darwin, Volume 1, p.316)
So Turkish are a "lower race" or according to the article a "lower variety" or according to Darwin a "lower sub-species".. Does It sound so different?
Anyway it is also wrong that "He was merely noting what appeared to him to be factual, based in no small part on the evidence of a European binge of imperialism and colonial conquest during his lifetime."
In the letter to Graham it is very clear that Darwin approves this evolution ("having done and doing more for the progress of civilization than you seem inclined to admit").--Domics 07:32, 14 July 2011 (UTC)

Another aid, this sentence alluded to parenthetically:
"Nevertheless, as our varieties certainly do occasionally revert in some of their characters to ancestral forms, it seems to me not improbable, that if we could succeed in naturalising, or were to cultivate, during many generations, the several races, for instance, of the cabbage, in very poor soil (in which case, however, some effect would have to be attributed to the direct action of the poor soil), that they would to a large extent, or even wholly, revert to the wild aboriginal stock."
The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, Chapter 1
Though Charles Darwin, typically of European men of the Victorian age, viewed 'savages' as his cultural inferiors, as an ardent abolitionist, he wanted the "lower races" freed from the yoke of European slavery.
I thank God, I shall never again visit a slave-country. To this day, if I hear a distant scream, it recalls with painful vividness my feelings, when passing a house near Pernambuco, I heard the most pitiable moans, and could not but suspect that some poor slave was being tortured, yet knew that I was as powerless as a child even to remonstrate. I suspected that these moans were from a tortured slave, for I was told that this was the case in another instance. Near Rio de Janeiro I lived opposite to an old lady, who kept screws to crush the fingers of her female slaves. I have staid in a house where a young household mulatto, daily and hourly, was reviled, beaten, and persecuted enough to break the spirit of the lowest animal. I have seen a little boy, six or seven years old, struck thrice with a horsewhip (before I could interfere) on his naked head, for having handed me a glass of water not quite clean; I saw his father tremble at a mere glance from his master’s eye. These latter cruelties were witnessed by me in a Spanish colony, in which it has always been said, that slaves are better treated than by the Portuguese, English, or other European nations. I have seen at Rio de Janeiro a powerful Negro afraid to ward off a blow directed, as he thought, at his face. I was present when a kind hearted man was on the point of separating for ever the men, women, and little children of a large number of families who had long lived together. I will not even allude to the many heart-sickening atrocities which I authentically heard of; — nor would I have mentioned the above revolting details, had I not met with several people, so blinded by the constitutional gaiety of the Negro, as to speak of slavery as a tolerable evil.
The Voyage of the Beagle, Chapter 21
That is the character of the man who you would defame as a supporter of genocide.
Robin Lionheart 17:29, 15 July 2011 (UTC)
Your example about cabbages further demonstrates that for Darwin "race" means "subspecies". Darwin's revulsion for slavery is very known ("It makes one’s blood boil, yet heart tremble, to think that we Englishmen and our American descendants, with their boastful cry of liberty, have been and are so guilty") but this is not a response to my observation. Back to my example about Turkish, Darwin (as European man of the Victorian age)viewed with favor or not the victory of "more civilized so-called Caucasian races" over the Turkish? or he was "merely noting what appeared to him to be factual"? --Domics 09:40, 16 July 2011 (UTC)
While Darwin surely would not have wanted the nations of Europe overrun, given Darwin’s compassionate nature, “beaten the Turkish hollow” does not sound to me like unqualified approval, and “what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated” sounds remorseful. — Robin Lionheart 09:59, 16 July 2011 (UTC)
"“what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated” sounds remorseful.".. if it was not preceded by "I could show fight on natural selection having done and doing more for the progress of civilization than you seem inclined to admit" you could be right but I don't think..It's evident that Darwin is writing about someting he approves.. Or "progress of civilization" is something negative for him?--Domics 11:09, 29 October 2011 (UTC)


The following passage is nonsense:

In Richard Weikart's 2004 book From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics and Racism in Germany he claims:

Darwin clearly believed that the struggle for existence among humans would result in racial extermination. In Descent of Man he asserted, "At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races."[10][11][12][13][14]

According to, this is a common creationist quote mine.[15] When Darwin referred to "race" he meant "varieties," not human races.[16] (For example, in Chapter 1 of On the Origin of Species, Darwin writes "the several races, for instance, of the cabbage".) In the passage "there is nothing in Darwin's words to support (and much in his life to contradict) any claim that Darwin wanted the "lower" or "savage races" to be exterminated. He was merely noting what appeared to him to be factual, based in no small part on the evidence of a European binge of imperialism and colonial conquest during his lifetime."[17] Darwin's passage, in full context, reads:

The great break in the organic chain between man and his nearest allies, which cannot be bridged over by any extinct or living species, has often been advanced as a grave objection to the belief that man is descended from some lower form; but this objection will not appear of much weight to those who, from general reasons, believe in the general principle of evolution. Breaks often occur in all parts of the series, some being wide, sharp and defined, others less so in various degrees; as between the orang and its nearest allies—between the Tarsius and the other Lemuridae between the elephant, and in a more striking manner between the Ornithorhynchus or Echidna, and all other mammals. But these breaks depend merely on the number of related forms which have become extinct. At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.[8]"

Weikart's quotation accurately represents Darwin's thought and its racialist premises. That Darwin didn't "want" savages to be exterminated is apropos of nothing. His claim is that they will, and the racist underpinnings of the concept is self-evident. Instead of the "small" gap between negroes and gorillas, extinction will produce a large gap between better-than-even-Caucasians and baboons. Also, Darwin uses race to indicate sub-species within ALL species, including humans AND cabbages.

Sorry, your "misquote" is not a misquote[edit]

Sorry, but the cited examples of the full quotes you claimed were misquoted, do not seem to be misquoted. Rather you seem to be wasting the time of honest people trying to check the veracity of quotes attributed to Darwin by creating rhetorical clutter.

ditto.^^ Thats not a misquote[edit]

Yeah, that's clearly not a misquote. Why is it on the page?

"Charles Darwin misquotes" or "Darwinism vs. ID"?[edit]

I would like to express my discomfort with this "article", since it doesn't really limits itself to talk about Charles Darwin misquotes. Instead, it is clear that this piece of writing is not written in a neutral style, but in a biased one. Basically, the whole article is written from the point of view of "atheism against intelligent design" debate, falsely assuming that all criticism to Darwin comes from Intelligent Design advocates or creationists. That is, of course, a false assumption, since there have been other serious critics (including scientists, evolutionists, agnostics and atheists) that criticize Darwin's social overtones; even since the beginning of the 20th century, but also in recent years (Look up for the keywords: "Neo-darwinism is dead"). Some of the quotes in the article, especially the last one, are not really misquoted, since in context they keep the same idea and show the same belief held by Darwin: the idea of the "racial superiority" of Caucasians /Europeans and the "racial inferiority" of indigenous people, australians and africans, or the idea that the reproduction of the "weak members of society" allow the degeneration of humanity, ideas that were ever-present in Darwin's worldview.--Goose friend (talk) 00:00, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

You are not alone in your discomfort. See discussion at #Merge proposal above.

I suspect the reason a merge has not been carried out, despite clear consensus, is that nobody is particularly eager to clutter the Charles Darwin article with this stuff, or to work out a way to annotate these disputes without giving undue weight. Perhaps it would be better to discuss deleting it rather than merging it. ~ Ningauble (talk) 14:40, 8 November 2013 (UTC)



An embarrassment ot the Wikiquote project[edit]

Read this sentence which is currently in the story "When Darwin referred to "race" he meant "varieties," not human races.[15]" Now go back and see the original quote: "At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races.""[9][10][11][12][13]

Do you see where the quote reads "races of man?" How can any reasonably intelligent person argue that "races" doesn't refer to races of man when the quote says "races of man?" This is an embarrassment to the project. I'm removing the sentence. 17:25, 20 February 2016 (UTC)