Ignorance More Frequently Begets Confidence


There’s happy news on the science and common sense front. First, The Complete Works of Darwin Online. Here’s a piece of their blurb:

This site currently contains more than 50,000 searchable text pages and 40,000 images of both publications and handwritten manuscripts. There is also the most comprehensive Darwin bibliography ever published and the largest manuscript catalogue ever assembled. More than 150 ancillary texts are also included, ranging from secondary reference works to contemporary reviews, obituaries, published descriptions of Darwin’s Beagle specimens and important related works for understanding Darwin’s context.


The best inoculation against the various attacks on evolution is a public deeply familiar with Darwin’s often eloquent writing. Here’s a brief passage from his Introduction to The Descent of Man (1871):

This work contains hardly any original facts in regard to man; but as the conclusions at which I arrived, after drawing up a rough draft, appeared to me interesting, I thought that they might interest others. It has often and confidently been asserted, that man’s origin can never be known: but ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.

Charles Darwin

Speaking of intellectual vaccines, there’s a new group called “Scientists and Engineers for America (SEA)” that will try to help shaped the ongoing debate in targeted elections at all levels of government.” Their goal, is “to renew respect for evidence-based debate and decision-making in politics.” I counted no less than 14 Nobel Prize winners on the listed board members.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and Smarthinking.com. I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol] writinginthewild.com

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Post Navigation