Tag Archives: Charles Darwin

March of progress, reloaded

To compensate for the um, excitement of that last post about project management, I present my readers with this especially striking depiction of the March of Progress image.


[March of Progress image]

There are two central points about this image, generally speaking. First, it represents evolution incorrectly. The figures become more upright towards the right side of the image, which is intended to represent progress towards modern-day human beings. Evolution does not progress, let alone towards us. Second, it’s racist. Portrayals of dark-skinned people as primitive had been a staple of racists since well before the late 1850’s; evolutionary biology simply provides a new context for this representation. It remains offensive; those who think it isn’t aren’t taking it seriously enough. Recall the 2009 controversy over the representation of Barack Obama as a monkey—being shot by police. The Tightrope web site (“It’s not illegal to be white. . . yet”) has a t-shirt using a monkey to represent Obama, and if you really think this isn’t racist, you can show the world by buying one. I point out the scientific problems first to pre-empt the inevitable knee-jerk criticism that political correctness is the motivation for my complaints about the image. Even Grand Wizards and Neo-Nazis should object to this image on scientific grounds, although I doubt that the ignorance and intolerance framing their world view does not promote serious study of evolutionary biology.

This instance is especially outrageous because the March of Progress is a march towards whiteness. Astonishing. It’s not my area of expertise, but is it correct that the 4th and 5th figures from the left have hairstyles more likely to be worn by people of African descent? The rightmost woman has hair not in general natural for a person with black skin, because it is brown.

EE&O archives to be available free, indefinitely

Over at the Evolution: Education & Outreach blog, I have posted some important news. The journal will be available on PubMed Central after a 12 month embargo (“moving wall“), starting in about six months. Read about it at http://blogs.springer.com/evoo/?p=361.

Editors and Editorial Board members are excited about this new development. The intention was to create a resource for learning about evolution that everyone can use, not just those fortunate enough to have access to it by way of a university or research institution that can afford to subscribe because they buy journal access “in bulk.” This includes a large proportion of our intended audience, which consists of primary and secondary school teachers, teaching faculty at colleges and universities, and, of course, curious individuals who want to expand their understanding of evolution.