In this lecture by Judy Stone we learned more about some topics discussed in Janet Browne’s lecture on Rethinking the Darwinian Revolution. This lecture also discussed the the misleading icon of the evolution of humans from monkeys, however, Professor Stone went even further in depth about how this icon was a misleading depiction. She informed us of how it should truly depict evolution as more of a branching diagram then the latter-like one shown in the common diagram that is falsely associated with Darwin’s research. She also states that this diagram shows evolution as something that has an end goal, or a final result, which she reinforced is also not true and inaccurate because species will continue to evolve and through natural selection will continue to adapt and change over generations.
Something Professor Stone also helped to clear up about evolution and Darwin in her lecture was the classification of species and how if species are types, then the variation in those species represents imperfection from the ideal member of that species. This was recognized by Darwin as the central key in all species evolving. This variation is the raw material for natural selection, and without any variation, there would be no evolution because all members of the species would be the same and there would be no members of a species that are better suited for survival. Professor Stone then proceeded to relate this discussion of variation to the typological thinking in our society that also reinforces racial boundaries. This is because the ascendance of the gene in the public mind has lead to many people having a typological way of thinking about species and about humans in general.
This idea of the gene reinforcing typological thinking in our public mind directly relates to Darwin and his research but this typological thinking is just inaccurate. In this public view and way of thinking, the variation in species is considered to be abnormal. As we can see from evolutionary history of species however, this is not the case, and many many variations in species have lead to better ability for that organism to survive and this survivability lead to this concept of natural selection and the overall evolution of that species. This typological thinking is referred to as mutationist thinking, and it has led to many failures in modern medicine, such as thinking things such as different species need different medicines because they have different genomes.
This is extremely interesting to examine in relation to the fact that in different regions of the world, certain diseases run rampant and effect entire populations, while at the same time those same diseases would have little to no effect in other regions of the world. This fact is not of course attributed to differences in their genetics but instead can be attributed to their region and the technologies and medicines available there. However, the public’s thinking that variation is a flaw, abnormal and undesirable leads to the idea that these people have undesired genes and that they are somehow a less powerful or inferior species. In this way, it is clear this way of typological thinking, that has been reinforced by the emergence of the gene, is a dangerous way of thinking and has lead to many failures in our modern era.