Darwin’s Great Blunder—and Why It Was Good for the World

Bruno Maddox in Discover:

ScreenHunter_02 Nov. 04 15.01 SCOTLAND. It’s a long way from anywhere to this particular spot on the steep flank of the Hill of Bohuntine, gazing east across the great green heathery abyss of Glen Roy to where it admits the mouth of the more gently scooped-out Glen Glaster. Certainly if you’re coming from the States—from Petersburg, Kentucky, say, or Dayton, Tennessee, or any other of the thousand places where you would be safer lighting a Marlboro off a burning American flag than being caught with a copy of On the Origin of Species—you’re going to find it quite a hike.

But you’ll be glad you came, I promise, and a grateful Lord will one day wash your tired feet in Paradise. For it is from here, looking east, that you get to see the truth—long known in the scientific community, and as a consequence long kept quiet—that Mr. So-Called Charles Darwin, with his dumb beard and his dumb theories, born 200 years ago this very year, was wrong. Not just a little bit wrong. A lot wrong. Wronger than a bluetick hound on moonshine. Wronger than a Dixie Chick wearing a blindfold. And he could, additionally, be a real pain in the you-know-where about it.

Happy birthday, smart guy.

The year was 1836. A 27-year-old Charles Darwin, not yet bearded, fresh from chundering his way around the planet in the poop cabin of the HMS Beagle, disembarked in Falmouth, England, on a mission to cement his growing reputation as a Grand Fromage of Science. His first destination, however, after a two-year pit stop to shower and change his top hat, was not, as you might imagine, the London Zoo, nor the Natural History Museum (which had not yet even been built), but rather the modest town of Spean Bridge, high and deep in the rainy and remote Scottish Highlands.

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