Tag Archives: evolution

Making Visible Embryos

Another visually interesting website that may be of interest to AHP readers: Making Visible Embryos. The site consists of historical images related to human development arranged in eight sections: Unborn, Development, Learning, Evolution, Remodelling, Standards, Monitoring, and Intervention. Though the site covers a variety of related issues, focus is on imaging technologies and the people responsible for making embryos visible.

Thanks to HT student (YorkU) and History & Theory of Psychology Student Network webmaster, Jacy Young, for bringing this one to our attention.

Video: Origins of American Psychology

Chris Green, president of Division 26 of the American Psychological Association (and AHP collaborator), has produced a second short teaser on the history of American functionalist psychology. 

He describes this video as follows:

A short history of the origins of American Functionalist Psychology, from Chauncey Wright, through William James and John Dewey, to James Rowland Angell (~1870 to ~1910).

It is the much abridged version of A School of their Own (part 2), below. Continue reading Video: Origins of American Psychology

Evolution in American high school textbooks

Scopes Trial newspaper cartoon, 1925, Collection of Richard MilnerIn a recent issue of the Journal of the History of Biology, 41(3), Ronald Ladouceur debunked the commonly-held belief that discussions of evolution were suppressed following the Scopes trial of 1925.

Two influential articles published in the 1970s suggested that pressure from Christian fundamentalists… forced American high school biology textbook authors and publishers to significantly limit discussion of the topic of evolution. The conclusions reached by these studies have become foundational for historians examining the interplay between science and religion in the United States in the twentieth century. However, a reexamination of key twentieth century biology textbooks suggests that the narrative that the treatment of the theory of evolution was held hostage to anti-rational cultural forces is largely a myth, created first as part of a public relations effort by the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) to differentiate, defend, and promote its work, and later as part of an attempt by scholars to sound a warning concerning the rise of the religious right. A focus on this narrative has not only allowed biologists to sidestep uncomfortable questions regarding the race-biased and class-biased assumptions embedded within the concept of evolutionary progress, it has also limited reliance on the texts in question as reliable reflections of the cultural assumptions of educators and scientists. A reexamination of the most popular American biology textbooks from 1907 to 1963, particularly the work of Ella Thea Smith, provides evidence in support of these contentions. (Abstract)

Ladouceur has also produced a compagnion website, with post-publication commentary, errata and additional source material.

This archive includes additional biographical information plus a selection of relevant texts, including a copy of Smith’s original typewritten and mimeographed textbook from 1932.

This supplementary material can be found here.

American Psychologist on Darwin & Psychology

Donald A. DewsburyThe flagship journal of the American Psychological Association, American Psychologist, has just published a special issue on the influence Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution has had on psychlogy over the century-and-a-half since it was first published.

The issue was guest edited by Donald Dewsbury (U. Florida) and, including Dewsbury’s introduction, it contains ten articles. Christopher Green (York U.) writes on the evolutionary roots of American functionalist psychology, while Raymond Fancher (York U.) considers the relationship between Darwin and his cousin Francis Galton. Robert Wozniak (Bryn Mawr) discusses the evolutionary thought of developmental psychologist James Mark Baldwin. Gordon Burghardt (U. Tennessee) delves into Darwin’s impact on comparative psychology and ethology while Stephanie Shields (Penn State U.) & Sunil Bhatia (Connecticut Coll.) investigate Darwin’s thoughts on race, gender, and culture. There are two articles on the Darwin’s influence on emotion research: Ursula Hess (U. Québec) & Pascal Thibault (McGill U.) on expression, and Randolph Nesse & Phoebe Ellsworth (both of U. Michigan) on disorders. Finally, David Buss (U. Texas) writes about the emergence of modern evolutionary psychology.

The complete articles are only available on-line by subscription but the abstracts are available here.

Conflating the ideas of Dewey and Spencer

Robin ZebrowskiIn a recent issue of Educational Theory, 58(3), Robin Zebrowski (pictured right) details some of the areas typically conflated in comparing the ideas of John Dewey with those of Herbert Spencer.

In educational scholarship, a number of comparisons have been made between the work of John Dewey and Herbert Spencer, many claiming that Spencer’s influence is unmistakable in Dewey’s theories or even that Dewey is derivative of Spencer. However, one must look beyond the surface similarities of Dewey and Spencer and recognize the drastically divergent views that each held on those very foundational notions upon which each built his educational program. In this essay, Robin Zebrowksi examines the theories of evolution, the directionality of organism and environment interaction, the agency of the individual, and the conceptualizations of progress in the respective works of Dewey and Spencer. Their underlying beliefs about the world and how it operates show that their philosophies cannot be reconciled. The educational theories that follow from these discrepancies, Zebrowski concludes, have incompatible and distinct implications for the classroom.

It is worth noting that Zebrowski’s criticism is directed primarily at Kieran Egan‘s book of 2002, Getting It Wrong from the Beginning: Our Progressivist Inheritance from Herbert Spencer, John Dewey, and Jean Piaget.  (My own comments on this work can be found in the article I published last summer in Perspectives on Science.) Continue reading Conflating the ideas of Dewey and Spencer

Scopes “Monkey” Trial Ended on this Date

John ScopesEighty-eight years ago today — 21 July 1925 — the Dayton, Tennessee trial of John Scopes, for teaching the theory of evolution by natural selection in his high school classroom, ended with a conviction and a fine of $100. The conviction had been expected — indeed, engineered — by Scopes’ defense team, which included the famed lawyer Clarence Darrow. The prosecution team had included the thee-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan.

The conviction was later overturned by the Tennessee Supreme Court. Often forgotten, however, is that the Supreme Court rejected Scopes’ defense team’s arguments that the statute on which the conviction was based violated the Establishment clause of the U. S. Constitution (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion….”), Continue reading Scopes “Monkey” Trial Ended on this Date

Darwinmania in the New York Times

Charles DarwinIn this year before the year of the bicentennial of Darwin’s birth and the sesquicentennial of the publication of Origin of Species, everyone seems to be tring to get ahead of the pack in celebrating the discoverer of the theory of evolution by natural selection (see our earlier report on the Guardian‘s feature here).

Now the New York Times has gotten into the act. Olivia Judson, an evolutionary biologist at Imperial College London and prolific science journalist has started a multi-part series of columns about the life and influence of Charles Darwin. The first column, entitled “Darwinmania!” (about whether Darwin deserves all the credit he gets) is here. Continue reading Darwinmania in the New York Times