Down with “Darwinism” and those darned “Darwinists”
Adam Goldstein has a post over at the Evolution: Education & Outreach blog which discusses a forthcoming paper by Genie Scott and Glenn Branch (both of the NCSE). Scott & Branch follow Olivia Judson in calling for the abandonment of the imprecise term “Darwinism”. This is certainly something I support, having echoed the idea in talks over the past few years. While the term has a certain historical and philosophical utility, it is practically useless as a descriptor for modern evolutionary biology. The term “Darwinist” is equally as useless. (I should add that my objection to the terms has less to do with their use as pejoratives by creationists and more to do with historical and philosophical sensitivity.)
The abstract for the paper reads:
Evolutionary biology owes much to Charles Darwin, whose discussions of common descent and natural selection provide the foundations of the discipline. But evolutionary biology has expanded well beyond its foundations to encompass many theories and concepts unknown in the 19th century. The term “Darwinism” is, therefore, ambiguous and misleading. Compounding the problem of “Darwinism” is the hijacking of the term by creationists to portray evolution as a dangerous ideology—an “ism”—that has no place in the science classroom. When scientists and teachers use “Darwinism” as synonymous with evolutionary biology, it reinforces such a misleading portrayal and hinders efforts to present the scientific standing of evolution accurately. Accordingly, the term “Darwinism” should be abandoned as a synonym for evolutionary biology.
Wander over to read it here.