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Re: Evolution was Re: 2012 US presidential race
Please, everyone, don't send me CCs of e-mails you send to the list. I
spent about as much time deleting e-mails today as reading them.
Technically and historically, "evolution" means ontogeny, or
developmental change. It's use for what we now think of as evolution
is due to the developmentalist, or Lamarckian, notion of evolution as
a predetermined trajectory (Lamarck's "tree" diagram is effectively a
road map of pathways a species might evolve), which was adopted by
Spencer before Darwin and imposed upon him thereafter.
I know, but that's of historical interest only. "Evolution" hasn't been
used to mean ontogeny in a long time.
Evolution *does* mean "change over time" - that is its general
In my impression, this "general sense" is a metaphorical use of the
sense "evolution" had in biology in the 1950s (when some kind of
"progress" was widely thought to be part of it). It is more widespread
in English than elsewhere, and doesn't occur in science except maybe
I think it is better to call descent with modification "phylogeny"
and natural selection "natural selection", etc. Just for clarity. And
ontogeny "ontogeny". And leave "evolution" to advertisers, and Romans
Not going to happen. In all languages that are fine with importing words
at all, "evolution" is a very widely known technical term of biology,
used as I described it, and "phylogeny" is a much less widely known
technical term that refers to, well, entire phylogenetic trees, not a
bit of anagenesis in a petri dish.
We scientists coined the technical term, we own it. That's the
advertisers' problem, not ours.