This quote from Thomas Huxley is a favourite among so called ‘climate sceptics’.
Mr Huxley, a self-taught 18th Century British biologist ruthlessly attacked the established consensus in defence of Charles Darwin’s new theory of evolution by natural selection.
The word sceptic has come to be associated with those who doubt the accepted consensus on anthropogenic global warming. It is generally used by non-sceptics disparagingly to suggest this group would doubt any assertion or apparent fact.
Some sceptics who understand the use of the term in this classic sense insist they are not sceptics, but rather rationalist. The outspoken Australian geologist Bob Carter is a case in point.
Others embrace the label as meaning a person who seeks the truth. This meaning is consistent with Mr Huxley’s writings.
Of course few doubters of the modern consensus on anthropogenic global warming are always true to Thomas Huxley’s ideals, but it is surely a worthy goal – to seek the truth above all else.
Notes and Links
The photograph of Mr Huxley is from Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
“Huxley had little schooling, and taught himself almost everything he knew. Remarkably, he became perhaps the finest comparative anatomist of the second half of the nineteenth century. He worked on invertebrates, clarifying relationships between groups previously little understood. Later, he worked on vertebrates, especially on the relationship between man and the apes. One important conclusion was that birds evolved from small carnivorous dinosaurs, a view widely held today. The tendency has been for this fine anatomical work to be overshadowed by his energetic and controversial activity in favour of evolution, and by his extensive public work on scientific education, both of which had significant effects on society in Britain and elsewhere… From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Henry_Huxley
“Huxley’s most famous writing, published in 1863, is Evidence on Man’s Place in Nature. This book, published only five years after Darwin’s Origin of Species, was a comprehensive review of what was known at the time about primate and human paleontology and ethology. More than that, it was the first attempt to apply evolution explicitly to the human race. Darwin had avoided direct mention of human evolution, stating only that “light will be thrown on the origin of Man;” Huxley explicitly presented evidence for human evolution. In this, once again, he locked horns with Richard Owen, who had claimed that the human brain contained parts that were not found in apes, and that therefore humans could not be classified with the apes nor descended from them. Huxley and his colleagues showed that the brains of apes and humans were fundamentally similar in every anatomical detail… From http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/thuxley.html
Other series at this blog include:
What is Wilderness?
12 parts, scroll here: http://jennifermarohasy.com/blog/tag/wilderness/
‘Defining the Greens’
13 parts, scroll here: http://jennifermarohasy.com/blog/tag/philosophy/
The idea for this series, ‘Defining the Sceptics’, came from Larry. Thanks.