Historians respond to “The Voyage that Shook the World”
Peter Bowler, Sandra Herbert and Janet Brown have responded to their misrepresentation in the CMI docu-drama The Voyage That Shook The World in the current edition of the History of Science Society newsletter:
The interviews filmed with us have been edited to highlight certain aspects of Darwin’s views and character. Janet Browne’s remarks about his childhood delight in making up stories to impress people is used to imply that the same motive may have driven his scientific thinking. Peter Bowler’s description of Darwin’s later views on racial inequality is used in the film, but not Bowler’s account of Adrian Desmond and James Moore’s thesis that Darwin was inspired by his opposition to racism and slavery. Sandra Herbert’s comment that Darwin’s theory required explanation of many aspects of life was edited down to imply that his theory required explanation of all aspects of life. The overall impression is given that Darwin had an enquiring mind but was led astray by his theoretical preconceptions, a view backed up through interviews with several scientists, including one who expresses open doubts about evolution. The film also suggests that what is ultimately at stake is a clash of world views rather than the resolution of scientific questions.