Do scientists have reason for apprehension about how their discoveries could affect our future lives? Are there lessons to be learned from Darwin, Semmelweiss, Szilard and others?
In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species, Bisno will engage us in a provocative discussion of other scientists who could well be dubbed, like the tormented evolutionist, "a Devil's Chaplain."
Bisno has served as an enthusiastic historian of science and a discussion leader for 16 years.
Dr. David Bisno
David Bisno grew up in University City, earned his B.A. from Harvard College, and then returned to St. Louis for medical school and ophthalmology residency at Washington University.
After two years in the Navy in Pensacola teaching ophthalmology to the flight surgeons, he headed for Viet Nam. Bisno enjoyed 20 years of private practice in Atlanta, Georgia. After raising two children in Dixie, he changed his focus and headed north.
1992-94 Bisno earned a Master's Degree in the History of Science between Harvard and Dartmouth Colleges. Bisno is now actively engaged in adult education around the world. He enjoys engaging groups of "silver-haired-scholars" in provocative discussion groups on a myriad of subjects.
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Encyclopædia Britannica Article
Darwin, Charles (Robert)
(born Feb. 12, 1809, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, Eng.died April 19, 1882, Downe, Kent) British naturalist. The grandson of Erasmus Darwin and Josiah Wedgwood, he studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh and biology at Cambridge. He was recommended as a naturalist on HMS Beagle, which was bound on a long scientific survey expedition to South America and the South Seas (183136). His zoological and geological discoveries on the voyage resulted in numerous important publications and formed the basis of his theories of evolution. Seeing competition between individuals of a single species, he recognized that within a local population the individual bird, for example, with the sharper beak might have a better chance to survive and reproduce and that if such traits were passed on to new generations, they would be predominant in future populations. He saw this natural selection as the mechanism by which advantageous variations were passed on to later generations and less advantageous traits gradually disappeared. He worked on his theory for more than 20 years before publishing it in his famous On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1859). The book was immediately in great demand, and Darwin's intensely controversial theory was accepted quickly in most scientific circles; most opposition came from religious leaders. Though Darwin's ideas were modified by later developments in genetics and molecular biology, his work remains central to modern evolutionary theory. His many other important works included Variation in Animals and Plants Under Domestication (1868) and The Descent of Man (1871). He was buried in Westminster Abbey. See alsoDarwinism.
I really enjoyed listening to this one. I would like to know, though, what we know for certain and how much of the Fitzroy story, especially about the condition of the man, has to be filled in by the imagination of the historian storyteller.
I am also not sure how much of the drama of the "What if Darwin had never gone on this journey?" speculation that seems to shine through some of the early parts of the talk I buy. We know pretty well what might have happened because Darwin only published after Albert Russel Wallace was prepared to publish very similar findings independently. Ultimately, it was only Darwin's friends who made sure that the ideas of both men got shown to the science community at the same time. Today Darwin's name is attached to what easily could bare Wallace's. And had none of the two published, someone else would have come out with the same insight a few years later.
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Watch Dr. David Bisno: Darwin, A Devil's Chaplain?