Going to talk to you today about Charles Darwin's dangerous idea. Dangerous, as you will see because it's something pretty simple to understand. It's not like Einstein's Theory of Relativity or even Newton's ideal about gravity. It's something that makes sense. One of Darwin's most famous quotes talks about the powers of growth, assimilation, and reproduction. And a process of gradual selection, of infinitesimal changes. Endless forms most beautiful and wonderful have evolved. Before we really get rolling here I wanted to ask a similar question to the one professor Oglebee asked earlier. And that's what you were told to believe about evolution. How many of you were not told anything about evolution? Quite a few, quite a few. Is there anybody out here who was told about evolution? And told that it was definitely something that you should not believe. Would you like to comment on that? That about covers it. That about covers it. Was it from a religious perspective? Yes. yYes, ok so from a religious perspective told not not to believe it. Anybody else? Was anybody, yes back there? >> Okay well [INAUDIBLE] one [INAUDIBLE] wasn't like supposed [INAUDIBLE]. >> Hm-mm. That I grew up, I'm in the south. And based on evolution in the schools. But they also taught that it wasn't scientifically proven or something. But it. >> Okay, so you got it from both the home from a religious perspective and from your high school that it was still in question about the validity. Thank you. Anybody else who grew up comfortably accepting evolution? Yes. >> They taught it in my school. It wasn't a religious school. It was a public school. It was accepted. If you didn't want to, no one told what do you credit [INAUDIBLE]. >> Okay, so the school found it perfectly acceptable without any cautionary notes that it wasn't proven or anything. And what state was this school in? >> New Jersey. >> New Jersey, okay. Anybody else? Yes, back here. [INAUDIBLE]. >> Okay, so from the family a dad went to the museum and everything, and so it was perfectly fine. Okay so we get a mix. And we'll come back to revisit this mixed both in today's lecture and later on in the course when we deal with some of these issues in a lot more detail in terms of some of the social aspects of it. I want to begin with a little bit of information about the zeitgeist that was going on at the time of Darwin. We've mentioned zeitgeist a couple of times, it literally translates in to the spirit of the times, and I guess right now If I had to pick a label for today's zeitgeist, it would be the age of information explosion. Because I think nothing has had a bigger influence in the last 10 years or so then the increase in social media and the availability at the touch of a button to get access to all kinds of information. In some strange sense, Charles Darwin also grow up in what might be call an information age. Certainly not a computer information age, but there was a shift in the availability of information at the time Charles Darwin was a student and a young man. Pamphlets became available. Now certainly the written word had been available for a long time before Darwin. And books were available and lots of people new how to read by the 1800's. But something happened with the manufacture of pamphlets so they became accessible. Very inexpensively. Fore pennies, you could produce a pamphlet. So, if you had a point of view about something, you could put out a pamphlet. If you wanted to sell something, you could put out a pamphlet. If you wanted to advertise an event. So, pamphlets were all over the place, and people began to. Spread ideas in a more concerted fashion than had been available before. And some of these pamphlets were talking about some of the very same ideas that Darwin would be addressing. Later on in his career. Darwin came from an educated family. You can read about his father and his uncle for sure, in history books. They made major contributions. A lot was expected of Charles Darwin. It was expected that he was going to excel academically and make a difference in the world in his career. What was at question was how he was going to do that? One of the assumptions within his family and even within himself was the possibility of being a physician, a noble profession. But as he approached the age of actually beginning to work toward becoming a physician, he began to have some second thoughts. He was thinking that this might not be something that would be a satisfying career for him. His father and his uncle among others, took a more pointed view and thought that it was because he was too lazy. To pursue, becoming a physician. He grew up in a religious family and had some ideas about possibly becoming a clergymen. Maybe only working on Sundays instead of working 7 days a week. Like a physician might. But he wasn't sure about that either. He was a bright, unsettled young scholar. Some of you people may be wrestling with some of these exact same issues, family pressures, career choices. Not sure what you want to do, I guess the underlying lesson is that maybe you shouldn't worry a lot about it. You might end up being as famous as Charles Darwin one day, if you end up making the proper decision and having the right sorts of good fortune come your way. While Darwin was in the midst of trying to wrestle with all of these things and make a decision, an opportunity dropped at his feet giving him an out for awhile. So, he didn't have to make the decision right then. And that out came in the form of what was going to become an excellent adventure for Charles Darwin. Captain Fitzroy, you see right here, was the captain of the good ship, The Beagle. And ships' captains, for the most part in those days, were wealthy individuals, and from the upper levels of British society. Britain had a lot of ships going all over the world. In those days it was kind of near the height of their maritime adventures. And one of the difficulties with these adventures were that they lasted a long time. Years, out on the sea, going from port to port. And pathetic little ships that looked like that, you would not want to be on one of those ships out in the middle of the ocean in a storm. The trips were fraught with danger, and loneliness. And one of the problems that ships' captains, like Captain Fitzroy had, was that the social stratification was so formal, that it was really unacceptable. To kick back and have a beer with the guys on the ship at the end of the day. So ships' captain routinely took people of their own status, and breeding, along with them, so they would have someone to have dinner with, and to talk to, over the course of these long trips. So Captain Fitzroy essentially took out an ad, saying that he was going to go on this voyage on the Beagle, and he needed someone of the proper social status to accompany him. He already had several other individuals on board, had a ships' naturalist, but he was also expressed kind of an interest in having someone not to serve formally as the ships' naturalist, but to have those leanings, to be interested in nature. Charles Darwin interviewed for the position and got it, and they were on their way. It didn't take long for Darwin and Fitzroy to find out that this was not possibly the best arrangement because there were a lot of things they didn't agree on, early on. This was probably going to only get worse as the adventure continued. But, what an adventure it was. This was just the most spectacular experience for Charles Darwin that could be imagined. As they went from island to island and port to port, Charles Darwin saw the most amazing plants and animals and landscape. And being a good naturalist, he filled notebook after notebook after notebook with his observations. He was in communication with scientists and scholars back home. Kind of a tedious process. You all obviously, have heard of email. In fact, my understanding is a lot of you are giving up email as being old fashioned these days. But, we also have something that you might refer to as snail mail. Back in Darwin's day, on these long journeys they had something they referred to as sail mail and some of the faster sailing ships would intersect these boats, pick up some mail so Charles Darwin could write a letter back to Professor Lyell in England. Put it on a ship, and maybe sometime, a month or two, or three, or five months later, you would get a response to that. So, he maintained some formal communication channels with the academic world, back home. In part, because of some of these pamphlets, one of the things that was on Charles Darwin's mind was species and where they came from. Why do we have squirrels and chickens and oak trees and rabbits, and why don't we have any longer as far as we know, saber tooth tigers, and mastodons, and things like that? What's going on with all of this? One of the books that he had been reading along with this adventure was a book by Malthus on population dynamics. Now it's possible, for an individual human to have 10, 15, 20 children, and you don't even have to know much about math to begin to figure out and project that, that we could very quickly go beyond the resources of the planet earth. And if you look at any species, and Malthus looked at a lot of them, what you find is that the vast majority of individuals born into any species end up dying pretty quickly. And they don't go on to reproduce and live long full lives. So the tenor of this whole book was that only a small proportion of any species will survive and Darwin found that interesting Found it interesting but didn't know what to do with it yet. On one of the stops, the ship made a landing on an island, that as far as anybody could tell, had never had any human inhabitants on it. Ever. In the middle of the sea. Isolated. Charles Darwin took a hike one day, to the top of a mountain. I don't know how big that mountain was. It might have been a mountain like the mountains that we have up near the Delaware water gap. It was probably not something like the Rockies. But anyway, he goes up on this high mountaintop, looked at his feet, and there he sees a bunch of seashells. Seashells on top of a mountain. How does that happen? It was a mystery to him. Then another location, the ship had landed on another island, and Charles Darwin went out to watch the sun set. He's standing at the edge of the ocean having a quiet evening. The ocean about eight or ten feet down below him. That night, Charles Darwin and the other members of the crew, had a rather jolting experience. They all experienced their first major earthquake, they had not, any of them I don't think, had any experience with an earthquake before, so it was kind of a surprising event. The next morning, Charles Darwin went out to this same location where he had watched the sunset. And instead of being 8 or 10 feet above the water, he was about 30 feet above the water. The whole land mass had shifted overnight. This is what Professor Oglesby and some other psychologists refer to as a prototypical scene. A prototypical scene, it's a time when a whole bunch of ideas that might have been whirling around in your head, all of a sudden, come together and make sense. Come together and make sense. So Darwin, who had seen seashells on a mountain top. He had seen and observed lots of finches with their different coloration of feathers, different beak shape, in islands that were actually fairly close together, geographically. He had read that there aren't very many survivors in any species, and he had seen the Earth change under his feet. And Charles Darwin had his big idea. He went into his notebook. And in July of 1837 drew this little tree. This, I think, I can guarantee you, was the very first time anybody had ever thought about a tree, that charted the course of evolution. With branches going out from different origins to different places. Some of them becoming dead ends, some of them going on to branch and re-branch again, with the survivors, obviously, making these extensions of the tree. And up in the top off in the margin he wrote, I think. A few years back, the 150th anniversary of the publication of his book, the Natural History Museum had an exhibit of Darwin and his possessions. I think Professor Ogleby went to the same exhibit. I bought this cool tie with all the little critters on it at that exhibit, and I had to wear it today. Anyway, Charles Darwin's real diary was there, open to this page. And I gotta tell you, it sent shivers up my spine to see that piece of history. It was the actual diary of the day it all came together, the big idea that was going to change the whole way that we look at the world around us, and not where we live but who we are and what we are as a human species. A big idea.