Charles Darwin and his evolution theory made a huge impact on science and society. Before Darwin’s theory, there were many weak evolution theories. Some depicted evolution as ladder-like rather than branching and evolution as moving towards a goal. These descriptions reinforced typological thinking. For example, the conceptual foundation was the great chain of being, which was enormously influential during 1500 to 1700 A.D in Europe.
However, in the lecture, Professor Stone pointed out that Darwin’s theory also had other impacts. The ascendance of “the gene” in the public mind has reinforced typological thinking. Impacts range from the trivial, to the irresponsible, to the criminal. One important aspect is that typological thinking reinforces artificial racial boundaries.
For human, genetic variation is continuous. Although there is diverse and everyone is different, there are no types within human genes. First of all, most human gene variation occurs within populations, instead of among types, such as the differentiation of races and nationalities. As a species, human is young, so our genes do not even have enough time to differentiate between each individuals. Furthermore, there is no biological reality to race. Our common perception of race is actually a notion of “personalized medicine.” Additionally, variable traits have complex causes. Indeed, in the famous twin study, the result suggests that single genetic variants could account for much of the variation in traits such as height, complex diseases, and intelligence. But genomic studies to date have found these results to be spurious.
Therefore, what might be the implication of typical thinking of evolution theory? Or more specifically, is Darwin’s theory conducive to the racialism of science? By the late 1800s, “social Darwinism,” a racist perspective called was developed extensively. People argued that social life was a struggle and only the best individuals would survive, while the worse people would die out. The idea was then conducive to the solidification of “white supremacy,” because African American people were believed that they would not be able to “win out” the competition.
Therefore, we would need to pay attention that Darwin’s theory may result in a scientific racialism. According to today’s research and technology, we found out that human would not diverge from “types to types” or “races or races.” The notion might be problematic, although a lot of people did not pay enough attention to that.
Another interesting question would be: if human’s genes are similar, could we confirm the existence of universal human natures? Some people don’t believe in human nature or the values that we were born with, because different people may bear from different countries and be raised in different cultures. However, since human genes are similar to each other, the way our body or brain function could also be similar. Yet, another question arises, how do we explain culture difference? Why do people think and act so differently in different cultures, religions, and systems?
Overall, according to Theodosius Dobzhansky, nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. However, the danger of typical thinking in society is as important as the value of evolution theory in science. We need to be more critical and pay more attention to the effects that these typical thinking have on us.