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Charles Darwin in Context: The Evolution of Dangerous Ideas

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Tuesday, March 15, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. ET
Code: 1J0162
This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
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Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin has long been put on a pedestal and idolized as an objective, rational thinker who challenged the theist views of his day and changed for the better how we see the world. The truth, however, is a lot more complicated. Not all of Darwin’s ideas are as original or unique as was widely believed. Many are drawn from the false assumptions and prejudices of his (Victorian) era, and then restated as factual scientific observation. They helped buttress racist and sexist worldviews in ways that continue to haunt us to this day.

Rui Diogo, an evolutionary biologist and associate professor of anatomy at Howard University’s College of Medicine, has extensively reviewed Darwin’s books, diaries, notebooks, and letters. Diogo shares an unflinching look at how the acclaimed naturalist’s racism and sexism undermined his work.

The goal is not to completely jettison Darwin’s work: He was in fact right about some important things. Instead, Diogo seeks to offer a more complete, nuanced, and clear-eyed assessment of his work that might better equip us to reject prejudices and false assumptions and evolve in our own thinking.

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