Evolution, a staple topic in Biology, is widely regarded as one of the most crucial pieces of understanding human, plant, and animal physiology, and their relationships with the Earth. Professor Judy Stone explored in her talk the misconceptions brought by explanation of evolution, particularly with the common and iconic image of evolution, portrayed in in general media and society – an ape quickly transitioning into a “modern” human, with only a few steps of transition separating the two stages. One major contention with this model, is the particular labeling of “modern” human. Humans are constantly transforming, growing, never reaching an endpoint defining current humanity, despite a silhouetted picture of a muscular-seeming man. The issues of equating evolution to steps on a staircase, lie in the lack of transitional description that defines evolutions. In between each hypothetical step is a hundred of other steps, with thousands of steps in between those steps, and so on. Evolution is dependent on gradual development, as there is no beginning, middle or end – it is an idea, not a list of actions. Additionally, Darwin’s evolution was built on the basis of branching, not direct growth. The silhouetted model depicts a single line of growth, while in reality, it has much greater resemblance to a patch of trees, where each species is a branch on one of several trees, having stemmed from a similar, or entirely different base species. Evolution is a never-ending, ever present process. Thanks to Darwin’s phenomenal work, this is all made clear, even when muddled by societal interpretations of evolution.
Does this really matter though? Why are we still talking about Darwin and evolution? This issue of typological thinking promotes the abnormality of abnormality, that variation is an issue. Unfortunately, this is so often reinforced negatively today, with scenarios such as President elect Donald Trump. With a campaign built entirely on hate and the opposition to difference, this typological perspective is perpetuated into the American people. Citizens of different race (assuming straight, white, male as normative) are admonished, distrusted, and even disregarded as “proper” Americans, creating significant divide in the American people. This is of course very dangerous, as it introduces the idea that genetic variation is responsible for creating a social hierarchy dependent on factors such as skin color, despite this having no factual basis. This ability to manipulate information, while not at all stemming from Darwin, can be falsely associated with the misinterpretation of Darwin’s evolution model, creating for unhealthy human perspectives.