“But I am aiming for a bigger audience than students of life sciences. Reading the Origin can teach anyone at any level important lessons about the structure of science and the meaning of the word theory. […] Reading the Origin can also highlight the role that that evolutionary theory played in shaping the future development of science.”
Just what exactly is it about Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species that caused – and indeed, continues to cause – so many Americans to lose their minds at the very thought of people reading it? (We’ll put aside the question of whether such people actually read it themselves, as experience has taught me that they generally haven’t.) But what of those Americans who didn’t recoil from it and who read it for themselves?
It was on this date in 1859 that Charles Darwin entered the words “all copies ie 1250 sold first day” in his journal. He was writing, of course, about his then just published book On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection – the book that would become the most famous of all his many works, would spark debates that still rage to this very day, and would end up being far more talked about than actually read.
For those who might be wishing to commemorate this anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s first edition of On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, I highly recommend doing so with a copy of David N. Reznick’s The Origin Then and Now: An Interpretive Guide to the Origin of Species close at hand.