Bestill your beating hearts, Darwin fans, for yet more Darwin texts are free online. Many have long known and loved the website The writings of Charles Darwin on the web run by John van Wyhe, at the British Library, which has virtually all of Darwin’s published books and articles online (yes, Virginia, Darwin wrote over 100 articles in addition to all his books). And, less well known but very useful, all the volumes of The Correspondance of Charles Darwin are searchable at Google Print.

Now, as reviewed by Niles Eldredge in PLoS Biology [1], we have online Darwin’s early notebooks – the “Red” and “Transmutation” notebooks – and manuscripts: the 1842 Sketch, the 1844 Essay, and the massive unpublished book for which Origin of Species was the “abstract”, Natural Selection. The website is The Darwin Digital Library of Evolution at the American Natural History Museum (http://darwinlibrary.amnh.org).

1. Eldredge, N. 2005. “Darwin’s Other Books: ‘Red’ and ‘Transmutation’ Notebooks, ‘Sketch,’ ‘Essay,’ and Natural Selection.” Public Library of Science: Biology, 3(11): e382. November 15, 2005.

PS: Hmm, the PLoS: Biology article says that the “Red” and “Transmutation” notebooks are online at the website, but I can’t find them. Post a think if you find them.


Scanning the titles of his contributions to periodicles, I see the following: “Note on a Rock seen on an Iceberg in 61° South Latitude.” The man may have revolutionized biology, but he apparently wasn’t much for titles.

I just love her *ss !! hahahahaha

This is terrific news, actually. One of the things I find fascinating is that reading Darwin helps understand just how brilliant and conscientious a scientist he was. Though the variation+selection concept is simple, it’s based on remarkably thorough and unbiased observation and meticulous reasoning. I like to watch how his mind thought through problems and issues of geographic variation, for example.

Fabulous stuff. Makes me proud to be even working on becoming a good scientist.

This might be the appropriate moment for you to become a Friend of Charles Darwin. Membership is free, and it entitles you to three more spiffy letters after your name.

You mean the GSS isn’t enough?


At least back in Darwin’s own time the cretinists’ artwork was better…

- JS

It’s nice that we now have the text on-line of Darwin’s unpublished “Big Book” but unfortunately it isn’t really text – basically it’s in some god-awful Flash-based PDF knockoff. It would be more useful as HTML – that way I could read it on my PDA while on the Metro, for example.

Darwin exhibit in New York challenges creationists Darwin exhibit in New York challenges creationists afp_english_2005_11_16_ANA_0370-0370-US-education-evolution.sched-advancer…ew 01 11/16/2005 074508

Agence France-Presse COPYRIGHT 2005 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved.

NEW YORK, Nov 16 (AFP) - A monumental exhibit on the life and work of Charles Darwin opens in New York on Saturday with a view to shooting a scholarly broadside at the opponents of teaching evolution in US schools. “Some would say that science … is under assault in this country,” said Ellen Futter, president of the American Museum of Natural History, where the exhibit is running through May 29. “The real culprit is the appallingly low state of science literacy and science education in this country, which stands in vivid contrast to the breathtaking scientific advances of the 21st century,” Futter told reporters at a press preview. “Darwin” – touted as the most in-depth exhibition ever mounted on the 19th century naturalist – was three years in the making, over which time the content was tweaked as the debate over the teaching of evolution grew in volume and intensity. “This is really for the schoolchildren of America. This is the evidence of evolution,” said the exhibit’s curator, Niles Eldridge. One section of the presentation is devoted to the question, “What is a Theory?” and seeks to clarify the distinction between scientific theories and non-scientific explanations about the origins and diversity of life. In a Gallup poll released last month, 53 percent of American adults agreed with the statement that God created humans in their present form exactly the way the Bible describes it. Thirty-one percent stood by the “intelligent design” stance that humans evolved over millions of years from other forms of life and God guided the process, while only 12 percent said humans have evolved from other forms of life and “God has no part.” In a move reflecting the resurgence of religious conservatism, the state of Kansas adopted new science teaching guidelines last week, under which the idea that life could have had divine origins must be presented to students alongside evolutionary theories. Meanwhile, a trial on whether intelligent design is religiously motivated – and its presentation in schools therefore unconstitutional – recently wrapped up in federal court in Pennsylvania, with a judgment expected early in the new year. Michael Novacek, senior vice president at the American Museum of Natural History, said the entire premise of presenting students with faith-based alternatives to Darwin’s theory was flawed. “Notions of creationism, including intelligent design, do not offer scientific challenges to the theory of evolution, because they do not offer a scientific alternative,” Novacek said. “They deal with sources and explanations … that as scientists we cannot test or observe,” he added. While partly addressing the current controversy, most of the exhibition is dedicated to an overview of Darwin’s life and an explanation of the theory that became the foundation of modern biology. Letter extracts include an angry missive from Darwin’s father Robert who, angered by his son’s reluctance to be a doctor, exploded: “You are good for nothing but shooting dogs and rat catching, and you will be a disgrace to your self and your family.” A few years later, Darwin, then 22, sailed off on “The Beagle” on the five-year voyage that would provide him with the field observations that led directly to his landmark work “On the Origin of the Species.” Darwin is also shown adapting scientific methods to his love life, in a notebook extract in which he weighs the relative merits of getting married. Entries in the pro-marriage column include “constant companion and a friend in old age … better than a dog anyhow,” while “less money for books” and “terrible loss of time” are listed among the cons

Hey even Darwin didn’t believe in evolution!

First Edition – 1859

Organs of extreme perfection and complication.

“To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, is, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree. “

Take that you monkey-lovers!

Finish the quotation. Better yet, read the whole book, rather than quote-mining creationist websites.

The next sentence:

Charles Darwin Wrote:

Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real.

And then a few paragraphs later,

If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. But I can find out no such case.


sorry, I couldn’t resist.…I was doing some research to answer a stupid letter in the NY Times science section and I saw that quote ..

“could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd..”

and I just replaced the word “seems” with the word “is” and put it out there.

So I was just doing a bit of pseudo-creationist quote mining to see what your response time was. So 3 valid rebutals in 16 minutes! Great Job!

Here’s someone else quote mining Darwin in the Cornell Daily Sun.

In a Christian faculty panel discussion on Nov. 4, Lembo quoted a passage from Darwin: “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”

Syntax Error: not well-formed (invalid token) at line 27, column 27, byte 1299 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/mach/5.18/XML/Parser.pm line 187.

I think this AMNH site is a lot of hype for almost no content- they have four items! Two of these are borrowed from others. The Origin of the Species is from Oxford and the Foundations of the Origin (1909) is from John van Wyhe’s Writings fo Darwin on the web. I agree the format of the book they provide is totally useless! Check out the list of Darwin works on http://darwin-online.org.uk/list.html

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on November 15, 2005 12:20 AM.

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