Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Remarks on the Improvement of Live Stock (Anonymous 1825)

Who was the author of the "Remarks on the Improvement of Live Stock" (1825)?

The question is interesting, because this anonymous author wrote:

"Simply procuring the best Males and Females, is not, therefore, the only requisite to insure success in breeding; selection of the proper animals for such a purpose is a sine qua non—THE JUDGEMENT OF THE BREEDER IN MAKING THIS SELECTION CONSTITUTES THE GREAT ART OF IMPROVING; his abilities to discern the good and bad qualities of the animal, and to cross judiciously with others possessed of different properties in such a manner as to eradicate the bad, requires much attention and experience, but when once acquired and followed up, seldom fails of producing the desired effect. Breeding IN and IN* from the most perfect anima, however closely allied, will be found far more advantageous, than changing and crossing animals remote from each other in the peculiar characters of breed, which too frequently produces stock scarcely worth rearing." (Remarks on the Improvement on Live Stock, p. 5, emphases original)
I got no further than determining that the printer, Henry Chubb, was a publisher located on Market Square in "Saint John" in New Brunswick.

Monday, 1 April 2019

Mike Sutton is a Fraud

Misrepresentation as a type of research misconduct
Nylenna et al. (1999) reviewed rules on research misconduct listing the following Danish definition:
Intention or gross negligence leading to fabrication of the scientific message or a false credit or emphasis given to a scientist. (Nylenna 1999, 58)
The University of Leicester lists types of research misconduct including:
Misrepresentation of data, such as by suppression of relevant findings, or knowingly, recklessly or by gross negligence presenting a flawed data interpretation (Types of misconduct in research 2020, item 5.i)
Nottingham Trent University, the former employer of Mike Sutton, also lists misrepresentation as a type of research misconduct in both its Code of Practice for Research and its Procedure for Investigating Alleged Research Misconduct.
Misrepresentation of data and/or interests and/or involvement (Code of Practice for Research 2019, p. 11, item 9.2.3)
Misrepresentation, defined as a deliberate attempt to misrepresent falsely or unfairly the ideas or work of others, whether or not for personal gain or enhancement. (Procedure for Investigating Alleged Research Misconduct 2015-16, p. 4, item xvi)
That is, if someone deliberately biases the interpretation of data in such a way as to deceive the readers, it will be a case of research misconduct.

Sutton’s misrepresentation of Selby (1842)
Mike Sutton's treatment of evidence from Prideaux John Selby (1842) concerning the evolutionary ideas of Patrick Matthew (1831) fulfills this definition, because he negligently proceeds from a historical source (Selby 1842) to an interpretation that perverts the historical message of that source into its opposite. Sutton writes:
In his own book on British forest trees, several times Selby adapted Matthew’s apparently unique phrase "greater power of occupancy" to "great power of occupancy" and was apparently first to be second once with Matthew's full original version (Selby 1842, p. 391), where he cited Matthew (1831) and revealed his apparent lack of understanding of one of Matthew's key concept of natural selection. (Sutton 2017, p. 43)
Selby did not understand Matthew’s power of occupancy as a concept of the comparative competitive advantages with respect to different conditions, so that a species could have the largest stamina under conditions that were not optimal for its growth but still worse for the growth of competitors.
The soil upon which most of the Abietinae prevail, is usually of a dry and cool quality; thus, the débris of granitic and other primitive rocks, and barren sandy districts, are very commonly occupied by Pine and fir forests, sometimes of enormous extent; the thick and close manner in which they grow, and the dense shade they produce, effectually preventing the vegetation of other species. Matthew, however, in his able treatise on naval timber seems to think that its indigenous location in such districts arises not so much from preference of soils of the nature above-mentioned, as from its having more power of occupancy in such soils than any other plant of the country; and this opinion he endeavours to support by stating that the Pinus sylvestris, planted in a good or rich soil, attains larger dimensions and its best timber properties, and that it is only driven from this superior soil by the greater power of occupancy possessed by the oak and other deciduous trees, an opinion in which we cannot altogether acquiesce, as we see no reason why the fir, if it grows with such additional vigour in a richer soil, as Mr. Matthew asserts, should, at the same time, be unable to maintain a contest with the oak or other trees. (Selby 1842, 391)
Where Matthew (1831) understood that pines could grow much better on rich soils in warmer climate, if competitors were kept at bay, Selby (1842) believed that pines do prefer poor soils and cooler climate. He, therefore, lacked the prerequisite for understanding Matthew’s idea that, after a catastrophe, remnant species would readily spread into free niches that had been cleared of competitors. He thus could not understand how natural selection could have transformed species, after catastrophes, even if Matthew had made the connection clear in his appendix. Despite Sutton's insistence to the contrary, the main text of Matthew (1831) says nothing about species transmutation. The appendix is the only place where he juxtaposed the ideas of natural selection and species transformation, but the relation of the two remained under-determined (Dagg 2018).
     In fact, Selby simply assumed that a species forming extensive tracts, occurring in masses, or forming natural forests had not only the greatest power of occupancy, there, but also optimal conditions and, vice verse, species that did not form the main tree species did also prefer other conditions of soil, climate etc. (see Selby 1842, 55, 101, 120, 299, 308f, 349, 364). For example, the oak did not exclude the pine from rich soils, but the pine preferred poor soils.
     This evidence suggests that Selby could not put the fragments of Matthew’s evolutionary aphorisms together, which were sprinkled over a text dealing mainly with practical matters of tree cultivation. Nevertheless, Sutton proceeds step by step to pervert his interpretation of this evidence into the opposite. He first turns Selby’s incomprehension of the prerequisite to understand Matthew’s idea of how catastrophes lead to species transformation into an “obvious enthusiasm” for the idea of natural selection:
Given Selby’s obvious enthusiasm for NTA [short for Matthew’s book: On Naval Timber and Arboriculture], repeatedly evidenced in his citations of Matthew’s natural selection concept of "greater power of occupancy" and his obvious respect for its author’s knowledge of arboriculture, it seems highly unlikely that he would not have discussed NTA, at the very least with other connected gentlemen of science. (Sutton 2017, 50)
He then spin-doctors Selby’s rejection of Matthew's concept of competition into a purposeful but dishonest pose on Selby's part: 
Here then we see an example of exactly what Secord (2000) is talking about in terms of a gentleman scientist of the 1840s keeping himself on safe ground by politely critizising Matthew on a point of botanical and arboricultural expertise. By so doing, Selby has managed to critizise one important element of Matthew's natural process of selection without mentioning it outside of the practical issue of Selby’s apparent failure to understand why there might be a multi-factored natural process of selection in nature. (Sutton 2017, 59)
The evidence suggests nothing of the kind. Instead, this evidence tells us that Selby did simply not understand those statements, scattered throughout the text and in the appendix, that were alien to the practical issues of arboriculture and could only be comprehended with a theory of evolution through natural selection already in mind (Dagg 2018). That is, Selby was not equipped to comprehend Matthew's evolutionary aphorisms, but Sutton claims the opposite.

Misrepresenting Selby’s role in the Annals and Magazine of Natural History
Alas, this is not the only misrepresentation by Sutton concerning Selby. For example, he puts Selby with other peripheral persons into “the epicentre of Darwin’s and Wallace’s” personal network, when that was clearly occupied by Joseph Dalton Hooker, Charles Lyell and others.
In this book I prove that other naturalists did read NTA, and this new knowledge is 100 percent veracious because those naturalists actually cited Matthew's book in the published literature. That three naturalists who cited NTA pre-1858—Loudon (1832), Chambers (1844) and Selby (1842)—were right at the epicenter of influence and facilitation of Darwin's and Wallace's published, so-called independent, discoveries of natural selection is a unique and new discovery about the greatest scientific discovery ever made. (Sutton 2014, p. 14)
For the record, Sutton has also dishonestly misrepresented the mentions of Matthew’s book by the others as well as the roles of the persons mentioning it, John Claudius Loudon and Robert Chambers in the above quote.
     Sutton also wrongly portrays John Selby and William Jardine as the chief editors of the journal in which the so-called Sarawak-law paper by Wallace (1855) occurred.
We can be absolutely 100 percent certain of the fact that Wallace and Darwin were indirectly influenced by Matthew via Loudon, who edited and published Blyth's 1835 and 1836 papers on evolution; the naturalist and editor, Robert Chambers, who famously published on the same subject in many editions of his influential and bestselling Vestiges of Creation; and Selby, who edited and published Wallace's 1855 Sarawak paper on natural selection. (Sutton 2014, p. 14-15)
Wallace's (1855) Sarawak paper’s editor and publisher, Prideaux John Selby (1842), read and cited NTA thirteen years earlier. Moreover, the naturalist William Jardine, co-editor of Wallace’s Sarawak paper, had the book in his possession for some time because he purchased Selby's copy (see Jackson 1992). (Sutton 2014, p. 72)
For a start, the fact that William Jardine purchased for Selby a copy of NTA (Jackson 1992), that Selby then cited it and that the two of them later jointly published Wallace's 1855 Sarawak paper, which is his first paper on evolution, creates massive doubt that Wallace arrived at his ideas independently, because this newly discovered fact brings Wallace, most incriminatingly, right into the center of Matthew's orbit, albeit via Wallace's immediate scientific associates who so greatly facilitated his career as an evolutionist. (Sutton 2014, 78-79)
When Wallace (1855) published his Sarawak paper in the Annals and Magazine of Natural History, the roles of Jardine and Selby in that journal were rather limited. It is true that William Jardine had founded a journal called Magazine of Zoology and Botany in 1836 and jointly conducted it with Prideaux John Selby and George Johnston (see Brock and Meadows 2003, 123ff). The journal was a financial failure, however, and Jardine had to subsidise it heavily. By 1837, they decided to sell their journal to Richard Taylor, and so did William J. Hooker (father of Joseph D. Hooker) for his failing Companion to the Botanical Magazine. Taylor fused the two journals into one, which first appeared in March 1838 as: “Annals of Natural History; or, Magazine of Zoology, Botany, and Geology. (Being a continuation of the ‘Magazine of Zoology and Botany,’ and Sir W. J. Hooker’s ‘Botanical Companion.’)” Taylor also gave the names of the former editors of the failed journals as conductors together with his. Taylor also bought the Magazine of Natural History from Edward Charlesworth, in 1840, who had bought it from its founder John Claudius Loudon two years previously. Taylor’s journal thus became: “The Annals and Magazine of Natural history, including Zoology, Botany, and Geology.” Keeping the former editors of the failed journals as co-conductors on the title page had two advantages. They contributed material to its contents and probably kept some subscribers to the failed journals as subscribers to the successor journal.
     As Taylor financed this journal, however, he conducted it on his own authority and availed himself of the help of his illegitimate son William Francis. [Together they were the founders of Taylor & Francis (Sheets-Pyenson 1981; Brock & Meadows 1998).] Jardine, Johnston and Selby even lamented about their waning influence on the journal’s contents in their private correspondence (Sheets-Pyenson 1981a, 240). On 6 June 1837, Taylor made his editorial politics clear to Jardine:
With regard to the conduct [...], it did not strike me that any difficulty would arise in adjusting our shares of responsibility [...] Whatever might be sent by yourself & your co-operators (who I am glad to learn are disposed to assist), or by Sir W. Hooker [J. D. Hooker’s father, former editor of another journal fused in Taylor’s] in his department, would be inserted, of course, in such quantities as our space in each number wd admit; but though I should in all doubtful cases be glad to avail myself of the opinion of such able advisers, yet I am likely also to receive contributions from friends here of such undoubted eminence, that you wd not think it necessary that I should forward them to you. (Taylor to Jardine, 6 June 1839, quoted in Brock and Meadows 1998, 124)
That is, articles sent directly to Taylor and Francis in London were unlikely to get into the hands of Jardine or Selby, who were free to contribute their own articles or those of friends they deemed worthy, but they were not generally involved in the daily editorial chores at Taylor’s publishing house in London. [Of the three former editors of the Magazine of Zoology and Botany, William Jardine, John Selby, and George Johnston, the latter was diligent in contributing articles.]
     Despite the move to London, the absorption of competing journals and continuity with them, the Annals and Magazine of Natural History was not an immediate economic success (Sheets-Pyenson 1981; Brock and Meadows 1998). Taylor strove to save costs wherever possible. He even wanted to save the postage for sending proofs of the contributions by his sub-editors back north and do the proof-reading in-house (Sheets-Pyenson 1981a, 236; 1981b, 25). While Jardine could keep Taylor from this by suggesting a scheme to sent the proofs at a cheaper postage (Sheets-Pyenson 1981a, 236), Taylor would not have forwarded direct submissions to his London office northward, apart from exceptional cases that he, Francis, or his London staff could not handle themselves.
     Wallace’s mediator in London, Samuel Stevens, probably sent Wallace’s Sarawak paper directly to Taylor and Francis in London, and they probably edited and published it there without sequestering opinions from their Northern consultant naturalists. Jardine had retired by 1850, anyway, whereas Selby lingered on, on the title page of the journal, until 1860 (Brock and Meadows 1998,appendix 5). However, Selby loathed the chores of reviewing and proof-reading, even when he still was one of three chief-editors before Jardine sold their journal to Taylor (Sheets-Pyenson 1981a, 231). His contribution to Taylor’s successor journal remained below what was expected of him from its very beginning in 1838 (Sheets-Pyenson 1981a, 238; Jackson 1992, 10).

Sutton (2014; 2017) clearly stated that Selby (1842) did not comprehend Matthew’s conception of competition. Hence Sutton’s spin doctoring this into an allegedly deliberate move by Selby is a deliberate move by Sutton in turn. He dishonestly misrepresents Selby (1842) in order to mislead his readers. Again, Sutton (2014; 2017) cited Brock and Meadows (1998) as well as Jackson (1992). Hence, he was fully aware of the limited roles that Selby and Jardine played in Taylor’s Annals and Magazine of Natural History.
     He deliberately misleads his readers to regard them as connoisseurs of Matthew’s evolutionary ideas, as central figures in the publication of Darwin’s and Wallace’s works, and to assume a publishing process similar to today’s peer review with reviews, corrections and proofs being sent back and fro around the world with an inevitable correspondence between author (Wallace) and editor (allegedly Selby). Taken together, this is a clear case of research misconduct.

  • Brock, W.H. and Meadows, A.J. 1998. The Lamp of of Learning. Two Centuries of Publishing by Taylor & Francis. Taylor & Francis.
  • Code of Practice for Research. 2019. Nottingham Trent University. Accessed 01.02.2020: https://www.ntu.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0031/796900/Code-of-Practice-for-Research-201819.pdf.
  • Dagg, J.L. 2018. Comparing the respective transmutation mechanisms of Patrick Matthew, Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 123(4), 864-878.
  • Darwin, C. 1858. I. Extract from an unpublished work on Species, by C. Darwin Esq., consisting of a portion of a Chapter entitled 'On the variation of Organic Beings in a state of Nature; on the Natural Means of Selection; on the Comparison of Domestic Races and true Species.' II. Abstract of a Letter from C. Darwin, Esq., to Prof. Asa Gray, Boston, U.S., dated Down, September 5th, 1857. Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London. Zoology 3(20 Aug): 46-53. [darwin-online.org.uk]
  • Darwin, C. 1859. On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. John Murray.
  • Jackson, C.E. 1992. Prideaux John Selby: A Gentleman Naturalist. The Spredden Press.
  • Matthew, P. 1831. On Naval Timber and Arboriculture. Adam Black, Edinburgh; Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown & Green, London. [Hathi Trust: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=hvd.32044102888526&view=1up&seq=9]
  • Nylenna, M., Andersen, D., Dahlquist, G., Sarvas, M. & Aakvaag, A. 1999. Handling scientific dishonesty in the Nordic countries. The Lancet 354: 57-61.
  • Procedure for investigating alleged research misconduct. 2015-16. Nottingham Trent University. Accessed 01.02.2020: https://www.ntu.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/204300/procedure-for-investigating-alleged-research-misconduct.pdf.
  • Selby, P.J. 1842. A history of British Forest-trees, indigenous and introduced. John van Voorst. [Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/historyofbritish00selb/page/n10]
  • Sheets-Pyenson, S. 1981a. From the north to the Red Lion Court: the creation and early years of the Annals of Natural History. Archives of Natural History 10(2): 221-249.
  • Sheets-Pyenson, S. 1981b. A measure of success: The publication of Natural History journals in early Victorian Britain. Publishing History 9: 21-36.
  • Sutton, M. 2014. Nullius in Verba: Darwin's Greatest Secret. Thinker Media, Inc.
  • Sutton, M. 2017. Nullius in Verba: Darwin's Greatest Secret. CreateSpace, Independent Publishing Platform.
  • Types of misconduct in research. 2020. University of Leicester. Accessed 29.01.2020: www2.le.ac.uk/offices/researchsupport/integrity/code-of-conduct/6-research-misconduct/6-2-types-of-misconduct-in-research.
  • Wallace, A.R. 1858. On the Tendency of Varieties to depart indefinitely from the Original Type. Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London. Zoology 3(20 Aug): 53-62. [http://darwin-online.org.uk]

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Darwin's correspondence concerning Hooker's address to the British Association for the Aadvancement of Science (1881)

The correspondence between Darwin and Hooker, which concerns the latter's address for the 51st meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BAAS), delivered at York on 1 September 1881, has never been published as an ongoing discourse. However, the context usually turns out to be important in historical issues. Stitching together isolated quotes from decades apart and from various sources can easily lead to a patchwork of facts that biases their interpretation.

Therefore, this post is a transcription of the whole Hooker-Darwin correspondence on Hooker's BAAS-address. Both hands are very difficult to read and I had some help by Roland Jackson (@RolandJackson, author of The Ascent of John Tyndall) with some of Hooker's letters. When transcriptions already existed in the form of published collections of either Darwin's or Hooker's letters, I used them. As mentioned above, however, none of the available publications give this BAAS-1881 related correspondence between Darwin and Hooker in full. That is, available transcriptions lack a lot of context. The following transcriptions remain a cloze in places. However, the links to scans of the originals at Cambridge University are given before each transcript, so that readers can confer to them. Suggestions for missing words are welcome.

P.S.: On 20 August 1881, Hooker asked Darwin about a publication of Karl Ernst von Baer (1859. Ueber Papuas und Alfuren). Translations of the relevant passages of Baer's essay can be found in the previous post. Darwin's reply, on 21 August 1881, also refers to Leopold von Buch (1825. Physicalische Beschreibung der Canarischen Inseln; 1836 in French). Translations of the relevant passages of Buch can be found in an earlier post.

DarwinHooker Correspondence: Feb.–Sept. 1881

Uncertain words in square brackets: []. Illegible words indicated by 6 spaces: _____. [My own comments are in square brackets and in green.]

Darwin to Hooker, 26 Feb. 1881
Part transcript: More Letters of Darwin.

“My dear Hooker
It was a real pleasure to me to see your hand-writing again, for it is a long time since I have heard of you. What a bore about the [mumps]; but I am very glad that you will soon have complete rest & change, in which [latter] I have [unbounded] faith. I suppose that Lady Hooker goes with you & I hope she may enjoy herself. Pray give her my kindest [simpathy]. I had vaguely thought whether I would pay you a call at Kew, but thought that you would [firstly] be too busy, & it seems that you will be on the road before I could come.
I shd think that you might make a very interesting address on geograph. Distrib. [Could] you give a little history of the subject. I, for one, shd like to read such history in petto; but I can see one very great difficulty, that you yourself ought to figure most prominently in it; & this you would not do, for you are just the man to treat yourself in a dishonourable manner! I shd very much like to see you discuss some of Wallace’s views, especially his ignoring the all powerful effects of the Glacial period with respect to alpine plants. I do not know what you think, but it appears to me that he exaggerates enormously the influence of debacles or [slips] & new surface of soil being exposed for the reception of wind-blown seeds. What kinds of seeds have the plants which are common to the distant mountain-summits in Africa? Wallace lately wrote to me about the mountain-plants of Madagascar being the same with those on mountains in Africa, & seemed to think it proved dispersal by the wind, without apparently having inquired what sort of seeds the plants bore. I suppose it wd be travelling too far (though for geographical section the discussion ought to be far reaching) but I shd like to see the European or Northern element in the C. of Good Hope flora discussed. I cannot swallow Wallace’s view that European plants travelled down the Andes, tenated the hypothetical Antarctic continent (in which I quite believe), & thence spread to S. Australia & the Cape of G. Hope.
Mosley told me not long ago that he proposed to search at Kerguelen Land the coal beds most carefully, and was absolutely forbidden to do so by Sir W. Thomson, who said that he would undertake the work, and he never one visited them. This put me in a passion. I hope that you will keep your intention and make an address on distribution. Though I differ so much from Wallace, his “Island Life” seems to me a wonderful book.
Farewell. I do hope that you may have a most prosperous journey. Give my kindest remembrances to Asa Gray”

Hooker to Darwin, 12 June 1881

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Karl Ernst von Baer (1859) independently arrived at species modification and common descent

The very year that Charles Darwin published his book On the Origin of Species, Karl Ernst von Baer published an essay that is remarkable in that it he also arrived at the conclusion that species can transform (though not in a teleological/Lamarckian way) and that common descent explains the patterns of geographic distribution of organisms (Baer 1859. Über Papuas und Alfuren. Ein Commentar zu den beiden ersten Abschnitten der Abhandlung Crania Selecta ex Thesauris Anthropologicis Academiae Imperialis Petropolitanae. Aus den Memoires de l'Académie Impériale des sciences de St.-Pétersbourg, Sixieme série, Sciences naturelles, Tome VIII, besonders abgedruckt).

Rudolph Wagner had quoted excerpts of Baer's essay in one of his own essays in 1861 (Zoologisch-anthroplgische Untersuchunge. Die Forschung über Hirn- und Schädelbildung des Menschen in ihrer Anwendung auf einige Proleme der allgemeinen Natur- und Geschichtswissnschaft. Göttingen: Verlag der Dietrichschen Buchhandlung. (Besonders abgedruckt aus dem neunten Bande der Abhandlungen der Königl. Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen) and concluded:
"Man sieht, wie hier zwei verschiedene Naturforscher, Darwin und Baer, ohne von einander zu wissen, auf ähnliche Ideen kommen, nur dass dabei dieser [Baer] besonnener, limitierter zu Werke geht." (Wagner 1861, p. 52)

One sees, here, how two different naturalists, Darwin and Baer, arrive at similar ideas without knowing of each other, only that this one [Baer] goes about it more level-headed and restricted. (My translation)
Therefore, Charles Darwin (1866. ) added Baer to the Historical Sketch of the 4th edition of his Origin of Species saying:
"Von Baer, towards whom all zoologists feel so profound a respect, expressed about the year 1859 (see Prof. Rudolph Wagner, 'Zoologisch-Anthropologische Untersuchungen,' 1861, s. 51) his conviction, chiefly grounded on the laws of geographical distribution, that forms now perfectly distinct have descended from a single parent-form." (Darwin 1866, p. xxi)
By the way, this Rudolph Wagner was not Moritz Wagner with whom Darwin had a spat about Leopold von Buch. Moritz Wagner, ironically, embraced Buch just like Darwin had done many years before him (see previous post), but tried to champion Buch's as the better theory. In particular, Moritz Wagner insisted on the need of geographic isolation/ separation as a prerequisite to speciation. This later disagreement seems to go back to Darwin's principle of divergence, which allowed Darwin to regard isolation not as a necessary prerequisite but a facilitating factor.
      In the following quote of Baer's (1859) original, the excerpts that Wagner (1861) gave are highlighted. The page numbers are in the 70s for the offprint (Sonderdruck) and in the 300s for the periodical (Memoires de l'Académie). My English translation follows below the German original.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Leopod von Buch's Description of the Canary Islands impressed the young Charles Darwin

Darwin's Notebook B (1837-38), on the transmutation of species, states:
"Von Buch. — Canary Islands, French Edit. Flora of Islds very poor. (p. 145) 25 plants. St. Helena without ferns, analogous to nearest continent: poorness in exact proportion to distance (?) & similarity of type (?)" (Darwin 1837-38, p. 156)

"I can understand in one small island species would not be manufactured. but why they should be manu Does it not present analogy to what takes place from time? Von Buch distinctly states that permanent varieties become species p. 147, p. 150, not being crossed with others. — Compares it to languages. But how do plants cross? — — admirable discussion." (Darwin 1837-38, p. 158)
Leopold von Buch, Wikimedia commons, public domain

Leopold von Buch is undoubtedly a very important predecessor of Charles Darwin. It is, therefore, interesting to take a closer look at Buch's statements that influenced Darwin. Darwin's notes in his Notebook B (see quotes above) relate to Physicalische Beschreibung der Canarischen Inseln (Leopold von Buch 1825, p. 130 and 133f), which Darwin read in its French translation by C. Boulanger, Description Physique des Iles Canaries (Léopold de Buch 1836, p. 144f + 147ff). As German is my mother-tongue, I will depart from the original German passages and translate them into English.
"Der bekannte französische Naturforscher Du Petit Thouars fand auf der Insel Tristan d'Acunha in 37°21' südlicher Breite, und deren Spitzen sich in die Wolken verlieren, von phänerogamen Pflanzen nicht mehr als 25 verschiedene Arten, von denen einige an das Cap, andere an das beinahe gleich weit entfernt gelegene Amerika erinnern, und in St. Helena steigt ihre Anzahl, nach Roxburgh's (sic) Catalog, ebenfalls auf nicht mehr als 36 Arten." (von Buch 1825, 130)

The famous French naturalist Du Petit Thouars discovered no more than 25 species of phanerogamous plants on the island Tristan d'Acunha in 37°21' southern latitude, whose peaks trail off into the clouds, some of them are redolent of the Cap and others of the almost equally distant America. And on St. Helena their number rises to no more than 36 species according to Roxburgh's catalogue. (My translation)
The next passage from Buch (1825, 133f or 1836, 147ff) seems odd in that Buch first describes a process of species transformation on continents and thereafter seems to describe the identical process in closer detail for islands, yet he separates the two descriptions by the sentence "Nicht so auf Inseln" (Not so on islands), as if he was about to propose a very different process for islands. The only difference, however, is that the varieties on continents need to depart from each other spatially to vast distances, whereas the same isolation is supposed to be possible on much smaller spatial scales on islands.
"Die Individuen der Gattungen auf Continenten breiten sich aus, entfernen sich weit, bilden durch Verschiedenheit der Standörter (sic), Nahrung und Boden Varietäten, welche, in ihrer Entfernung nie von anderen Varietäten gekreuzt und dadurch zum Haupttypus zurückgebracht, endlich constant und zur eigenen Art werden. Dann erreichen sie vielleicht auf anderen Wegen auf das Neue die ebenfalls veränderte vorige Varietät, beide nun als sehr verschieden und sich nicht wieder miteinander vermischende Arten. Nicht so auf Inseln. Gewöhnlich in enge Thäler oder in den Bezirk schmaler Zonen gebannt, können sich die Individuen erreichen und jede gesuchte Fixirung einer Varietät wieder zerstören. Es ist dies ungefähr so, wie Sonderbarkeiten oder Fehler der Sprache zuerst durch das Haupt einer Familie, dann durch Verbreitung dieser selbst, über einen ganzen District einheimisch werden. Ist dieser abgesondert und isolirt, und bringt nicht die stete Verbindung mit andern die Sprache auf ihre vorige Reinheit zurück, so wird aus dieser Abweichung ein Dialekt. Verbinden natürliche Hindernisse, Wälder, Verfassung, Regierung, die Bewohner des abweichenden Districts noch enger, und trennen sie sie noch schärfer von den Nachbarn, so fixirt sich der Dialekt, und es wird eine völlig verschiedene Sprache. —
     Deswegen eben, ist es so wichtig, den Standort genau anzugeben, und zu bezeichnen, an welchem die Pflanzen auf den Inseln sich finden. Er hat fast jederzeit etwas Eigenthümliches. Ist er durch natürliche Hindernisse, durch Bergreihen, welche mehr scheiden, als bedeutende Entfernungen über dem Meer, von andern Orten sehr getrennt, so kann man immer dort ganz neue, in anderen Theilen der Insel nicht vorkommende Pflanzenarten erwarten. Vielleicht hat ein glücklicher Zufall, durch eine besondere Verbindung von Umständen den Saamen über die Berge gebracht. Sich selbst an der abgeschlossenen Stelle überlassen, wird dann auch hier im Laufe der Zeiten die aus den neuen Bedingungen des Wachstums entstandene Varietät zur eigenen Art, welche sich immer mehr von ihrer ersten ursprünglichen Form entfernt, je länger sie ungestört in dieser eingeschlossenen Gegend erhalten wird." (von Buch 1825, p. 133)

On continents, the individuals of a genus spread, depart far from each other, develop through the differences in the location, nutrition and soil varieties which, in their distance, never cross with other varieties and thus never get drawn back to the main type, eventually get constant and become their own species. They may then reach on another route, again, the also altered previous variety, both now as very different species that do no longer mix with each other. Not so on islands. Usually banished in steep valleys or narrow zones, the individuals can reach each other and destroy each sought fixation of a variety. This is similar to the oddities or mistakes in language that are first propagated by the head of a family and then, spread with the family itself, become native to a whole district. If the latter is separated and isolated, and if the first contact with others does not bring the language back to its previous purity, then the deviation will become a dialect. If natural barriers, forests, constitution, government connect the inhabitants of the deviant district and separate them even sharper from the neighbors, then the dialect will get fixed and it will become a completely different language. —
     Therefore, it is important to indicate the location/site/habitat exactly and to specify on which ones the plants on the islands can be found. It [the location] almost always has something peculiar. If it is isolated from other locations by natural barriers, mountain ranges, which separate more than considerable distances over the sea, then one can expect to find new plant species that do not occur in other parts of the island. Maybe a lucky coincidence has brought the seeds over the mountain range by some special combination of conditions. Left to their own in the isolated location, the variety that develops because of the new conditions of growth will, in the course of time, become an own species which departs the farther from its first original form the longer it remains undisturbed in this isolated area. (My translation)
The next passage from Buch (1825, 134 or 1836, 149) is significant because it shows that

Friday, 1 February 2019

My Brontosaur Theory on Counterfactual Histories of Science

So called counterfactual histories are scenarios of what could have come to pass, if some contingent event of the past had turned out differently. It is controversial whether exploring such counterfactual alternative paths to the actual history has any merit for academic historiography. This is even more true for the history of science, because science is often assumed to approach one reality. Alternative paths in a counterfactual history must inevitably reach the same or a very similar state of knowledge, so the assumption.  

Therefore, historians of science usually claim that counterfactual narratives usually result in an alternative state of science that is pretty close or even identical to the actual state of science. This claim is supported by the assumption that a plausibility constraint prevents counterfactual histories from becoming incompatible with the actual science. That is, if a counterfactual history would end in a state of science that was incompatible with the actual science, then it would turn into science fiction and cease to belong to academic historiography. In other words: Counterfactual histories of science cannot be incompatible with the current state of science and be plausible at the same time!

Plausible counterfactual narratives that do end in identical or closely similar states of science are variously referred to as being contingent in a benign or weak sense (e.g., Soler 2008; Hesketh 2016; Tambolo 2018). One could think of this as two potential paths that departed at a contingent point of the past, but only one path got realized. If both had been realized, the gap between them would have remained rather thin and they would eventually have converged again. Think of the outline of a worm rather than a brontosaur

A popular example of a counterfactual narrative that has been taken to be benign or weak in this sense is Peter Bowler's Darwin Deleted (2013). It ends in an alternative state of science that is identical in its scientific content and only differs in its social context. In Darwin Deleted, Charles Darwin dies prematurely but, in the end, the resulting evolutionary theory is identical to the current one. The difference between the counterfactual and the actual science is that some social discontents (like social Darwinism, Nazi eugenics) got associated with alternatives to natural selection (e.g, Lamarckism, Spencerian ideas, orthogenesis) and sunk together with them. That is, they did not get associated with natural selection, which came in later. Therefore, natural selection came out clean in Bowler's counterfactual and Bowler's aim of his counterfactual was, in fact, to prove that there is no necessary association between natural selection and its social discontents.

I am not interested, here, in these social issues or Bowler's beef with the Intelligent Design proponent Weikart, who apparently wants to burden Darwin with some responsibility for the holocaust etc. Instead, I want to refute the above claimed necessary association between the plausibility of counterfactual histories of science and their compatibility with the actual science.

If this association was necessary, then any history of science (even one about actual not counterfactual research) would appear to be outlandishly improbable to us, because it went through states that are utterly incompatible with the current state of knowledge. Take Bowler's Darwin Deleted, for example. It is completely incompatible with the current state of evolutionary biology somewhere in the middle, because alternatives to natural selection like Lamarckism, use-inheritance, blending inheritance etc. rule there. At the same time, this intermediate state of science is not only plausible but grounded in what many actual scientists and philosophers did indeed believe for a long time after Darwin and before the Modern Synthesis. That is, even actual history confronts us with states of science that are incompatible with the current state and yet plausible to the highest possible degree.

In other words, the gap between the path of Bowler's counterfactual and the actual history of evolutionary biology is not worm shaped!

Hence my theory, which is mine, ahem ahem: The gaps between most counterfactual and actual histories of science are thin at the beginning, much, !much! thicker in the middle, and then thin again in the end. That is my Brontosaur Theory of counterfactual histories of science. It is mine and belongs to me and I own it and what it is too.

I have a second theory, which is the second part of my first theory and it is also mine. This is it: AHEM!!! By chopping brontosaur counterfactuals in half and truncating them, the gap between the counterfactual and the actual history will become cone shaped. That is, the gap will gape and never close again. I call this my Hyolith Theory on Counterfactual Histories of Science.

Reconstruction of Haplophrentis, a hyolith. From Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

1. Bowler, P.J. 2013. Darwin deleted. Imagining a world without Darwin. The University of Chicago Press.
2. Hesketh, I. (2016). Counterfactuals and history: Contingency and convergence in histories of science and life. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 58, 41-48.
3. Soler, L. (2008). Revealing the analytical structure and some intrinsic major difficulties of the contingentist/inevitabilist issue. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 39,
4. Tambolo, L. 2018. So close no matter how far: counterfactuals in history of science and the inevitability/contingency controversy. Synthese, https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-018-1787-7.

Sunday, 30 December 2018

A Punxsutawney Phil degree in history of science

This post is about how aspects of the movie Groundhog Day (with Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell) can be seen as a parable for a specific controversy in the history of science. But first I need to say a thing or two on that controversy.

The contingency-inevitability controversy is about the question whether the history of science would inevitably have had to lead to our current science, no matter what contingent path had been chosen in the past, or whether it could have lead to true alternatives, that is, sciences that are as successful as our current one but remarkable different in its theories, methods, machinery etc. [Some classical references: Hacking, Ian. 1999. The social construction of what? Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Hacking, Ian. 2000. How inevitable are the results of successful science? Philosophy of Science, 67, S58–S71. A more recent collection of works on that issue: Léna Soler, Emiliano Trizio & Andrew Pickering (Eds.). Science as it could have been. Pittsbugh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.]

The most often quoted statement in this controversy is from Hacking (2000, S61, original emphasis):

"Take any results R, which at present we take to be correct, of any successful science. We ask: If the results R of a scientific investigation are correct, would any investigation of roughly the same subject matter, if successful, at least implicitly contain or imply the same results? If so, there is a significant sense in which the results are inevitable."

[I even quoted it myself in a paper once and refrained from pointing out the redundancy in "implicitly contain or imply" lest I'd be seen as a smart-ass or too stupid to sense an irony by Hacking. But a blog-post seems fair enough to indulge.]

The extreme positions on the contingency-inevitability continuum are: 
1. Extreme Contingentism: History of science is totally contingent. If scientists had taken an alternative turn at some point in the past, we would live with an entirely different science. It might not even be compatible with our current science yet be as successful (e.g., in statistics of healing sick patients).  
2. Extreme Inevitabilism: History of science is totally inevitable. No matter what alternative turn scientists might have taken in the past, we would live with exactly the same science as we have today.

Suppose the film-makers of Groundhog Day had been adherents of extreme contingentism. Then, Phil Connors (Bill Murray) could have planned nothing, because Butterfly Effects would have thwarted all his attempts to anticipate what will happen the next (same) day from what he experienced the previous (same) day. The boy would not always fall from the same tree, the man in the restaurant not always choke on a chunk of steak etc. Phil Connors should become mad by round 10 and the film-makers unable to tell a narrative. The film would be DaDa. 

Suppose, instead, the film-makers had been adherents of extreme inevitabilism. Then, Phil Connors could have changed nothing, no matter how hard he tried. All his attempts would be futile and the film would have no ending, just an open end telling us that it will go on and on forever.

Apparently, the film-makers chose an intermediate route, in order to be able to tell an interesting narrative. While Phil Connors is able to remember what had happened the previous (same) day and react differently, all others do not and behave just the same. In this way, Connors is a contingent factor (loose cannon at times) in an otherwise predictable world. Therefore, Phil Connors can work at trying to change his fate. If the rest of his microcosm was unpredictable or he had no power to change his own behavior and thereby tilt the microcosm towards another direction, then a film without a story would have resulted.

Interestingly, many historians of science think that authors who try to devise what-if scenarios of what might have come to pass, alternatively, (so-called counterfactual histories) are bound by similar narrative constraints. They can allow one or a very few factors of the past to deviate contingently, but the rest must remain predictable. Otherwise, their counterfactual history would become Dadaistic (everything contingent) or boring (everything determined) but either way have no merit for historiography.

P.S.: Of course there are other messages in the movie, like the one that love is a liberating force, but I was exclusively trying to explore analogies with a particular history-of-science issue.

Thursday, 27 December 2018

The genitals of old statues suggest that Michelangelo's David was an athlete

This post will be for you, if you ever stood in front of old statues, like I stood in front of David, perplexed by questions like the following: Why should Michelangelo have taken a model that had not only a glaringly non-Jewish manhood but also featured a prepuce (foreskin) that seems to be constricted enough to still prompt modern surgeons to consider the option of circumcision for non-religious reasons? Why do old statues sometimes seem to suffer from phimosis or apparently even grosser disfigurements of their genitals? Why did the artists depict them thus and not in a more natural and healthy way?  
     One look at the athletic bodies of old statues can tell most people that they were—well—athletic. The following musings about some odd genital features of some old statues, however, suggest (to me) that Michelangelo's model for David was an athlete in the sense of a professional sportsman. Anticipating the key point, athletes used to perform naked; therefore, they had to lace up their prepuce in a peculiar way for reasons of decency. Surprisingly, the effects that lacing up the prepuce with these strings, called Kynodesmes, had on the foreskin are visible in old statues. Current but ignorant onlookers, like me, can easily associate these features with a phimosis rather than a common feature of athletes.

The long way round to the key point
The Liebighaus in Frankfurt currently hosts a fabulous exhibition about Iason, the Argonauts and most importantly Medea (until 10 Feb. 2019). It's worth it, especially if you manage to get guidance (our guide was captivating). However, I will not retell the vast epic of Medea and its prequel about the Golden Fleece and, instead, focus on a rather peculiar detail: the genitals of some of the exhibits, of which I have taken pictures.
     Taking an Etruscan mirror as his point of departure, the curator of the Liebighaus advances a controversial thesis about two famous bronze statues otherwise known as Ruler and Boxer at Rest of Quirinal (or Thermae Ruler and Boxer). The mirror shows a standing Polydeukes (or Pollux, one of the Argonauts) to the left and a sitting Amykos (son of Poseidon and king of Bebryces) to the right, whom Polydeukes defeated in boxing. The woman behind Amykos is a goddess and the egg on the column indicates that Polydeukes had hatched from an egg.
Etruscan mirror with Polydeukes (Poloces, standing left) and Amycos (sitting right).

The curator arranged replicas of the Ruler and Boxer of Quirinal in positions resembling those of Polydeukes and Amykos on the mirror. Again, I will not go into the details of the controversy about whether or not these bronze statues were really meant to depict Polydeukes and Amykos and instead focus on a still more peculiar detail.
Quirinal Ruler and Boxer at rest or, maybe, Polydeukes and Amykos?

This detail is the penis of the Ruler.
Genitals of the Quirinal Ruler
On seeing it I immediately thought, "Damn this man had a phimosis!"  and I remembered that I had thought the same about Michelangelo's David, when in Florence many years ago. Again, I know that it is highly popular to wonder about the size of the genitals of antique statues and ask oneself, why they were depicted so small. And, again, I will not go into that direction.

At the end of the guided tour, I had a chance to ask our fabulous guide (a female in her thirties with a long course of studies of archeology behind her, whose name I unfortunately did not register) and she taught me a lesson. It was customary among athletes to take the foreskin and wind a string around it and then bind the penis close to the body. The proper word for the string for binding the penis tight is Kynodesme and the purpose seems to have been preventing the glans from peeping out of the foreskin, which was regarded as dishonorable among the Greeks and Etruscans. (Maybe they associated an exposed glans with sexual arousal.)

And, indeed, returning to the Terme Ruler and Boxer afterwards, I could see that the Boxer has his penis bound to curl upwards, which was one customary way to wear the Kynodesme. Here's a picture of the genitals of the Boxer at Rest.
Genitals of the Quirinal Boxer at rest

What you see here is the scrotum with the testicles, the tightly bound penis above the right testicle and the foreskin with the Kynodesme string around it above the left testicle. Okay, you do not see it. I show you the penis in a white ellipse and the bound foreskin in a white rectangle:
Genitals of the Boxer with an ellipse around the penis and a rectangle around the prepuce. 

What appears to be a gross disfigurement at first sight, turns out to be due to a Kynodesme. This suggests (to me) that the Quirinial Ruler has, from long custom of binding his penis away in like fashion, a foreskin that looks as though it was constricted by a phimosis. I comply with the interpretation of my competent guide. But now I wonder whether the model that Michelangelo used for his David was a young athlete (boxing or otherwise), whose foreskin was not yet as worn out as the ones of the Quirinal Ruler or Boxer but already showed first signs of constriction from being laced up in the then customary fashion. Make up your own mind by looking at the following details from Michelangelo's David. Does his foreskin show signs from wearing a Kynodesme?
David's genitals seen from the right.
David's genitals seen from left.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

The Comicreader’s Guide to the Historiography of Science

Abstract. This is neither a comic nor a piece of history or science. It is rather a meta-level comparison of two narrative formats—comic or graphic novel with historiography. The insights gained from this comparison are then applied to examples from the history of evolutionary theory, in order to show how the analogy can serve as a tool for visualizing particular narrative structures and functions.

The explanatory role of narrative is a topical issue in philosophy and history of science (see Morgan and Wise 2017, and articles following in this special issue called Narrative in Science). In this quest, images are often used as analogies that can visualize narrative structures and their functions (e.g., Morgan 2017). John Lewis Gaddis, for example, begins his excellent book The Landscape of History with Caspar David Friedrich’s painting The Wanderer above a Sea of Fog (fig. 1). This summons up Gaddis’s own sense of what historical consciousness is all about. Historians focus their attention, from whatever vantage point they can find, on where they have been and turn their back on concerns of the present (Gaddis 2002, p. 2).

Fig. 1.: The Wanderer above the Sea of Fog by Caspar David Friedrich (around 1817). Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany (picture taken by Elke Waldorf).

Soon, however, Gaddis needs to exchange this gazebo retrospective with other illustrative allegories and metaphors for the historian’s perspective. An eagle-eye (remote sensing) view can see what is happening in the valleys of the metaphorical landscape but will miss the action going on under canopies or roofs. Participant or protagonist reports can provide the latter, but will be limited to their individual experiences (see section 3, below).
    By chapter two, Gaddis’s metaphors are in disarray. A map is better than the eagle-eye view at conveying the idea that the landscape (history) is a representation that has been construed by someone. But he needs to depart from these static metaphors and to admit that historians can manipulate time, matter, and space in ways that neither a look-out, a map-reader, or a protagonist could. Historians can scale dimensions up and down by zooming in and out of situations. Zooming in, they can spy out particular events, like immaterial ghosts, without ever getting embroiled in the action (like time-travelers in movies). They can not only de-materialize themselves but also render the past scenery concrete or abstract. And they can retard and speed up the passage of time by jumping large swaths of time with a few sentences only to expand a crucial moment by treating it at a length that takes much longer to read or enact. That is, Gaddis needs to add allegories of dimension jumping, time traveling, and the like to the wanderer’s retrospective from a promontory.
   This suggested to me that comics may provide a more versatile analogy for historiographic narratives, even though the proposition may seem preposterous at first. It will seem less so after understanding the comic as a narrative format rather than a genre. Most people think of the comic or graphic novel as a genre and do associate it with either funny animals (e.g., Donald Duck) or superheroes. However, this is far from gauging the diversity of comics. Some are (auto-)bio-graphic novels (e.g., Bechdel 2007 on her family life, father’s suicide, and homosexual coming out; Dewilde 2016 on his surviving the terror attack on the Parisian night club Bataclan and finding back into life thereafter), some are journalistic war-zone reportages (e.g. Sacco 2009) or documentaries (e.g., Mandel and Bouagga 2017 on the refugees’ Jungle of Calais) and many deal with science in an instructional, educational, or edutainment form. Narratives of any genre can be put into the format of a comic or graphic novel. The format has been analyzed by McCloud (1994), Eisner (2001), Jüngst (2010) and many other comic makers and experts. All agree that it is a sequential art requiring a succession of still images. Whereas the story of a comic or graphic novel can be translated into many different media (e.g., film, audio play, text), the format is limited to media that can feature sequences of still images whether on paper, walls, or in digital media.
    The advantage of the comic over other narrative formats is that its structures and functions are rather obvious. They almost illustrate themselves. Therefore, the comic format is a good foil against which to compare narrative structures and functions in the history of science, which is a far more complex animal. Not each element, function, form of representation, or perspective in comics finds an analogon in the history of science but, in comparing these narrative formats, differences can be as informative as similarities.

1 The comic format
Comics and graphic novels will be obvious representations, even if they are documentary or biographic by genre. Therefore, the comic format has the advantage that nobody gets confused about the status of the narrative as a representation that has been constructed. This is not true for history writing, where their representational status needs emphasizing (Gaddis 2002).
    Comics are montages of both words and images (Eisner 2000, 8) where visual regimes (like perspective, symmetry, or resolution) are integrated with narrative ones (like grammar, syntax, plot). This is also true for pieces of history or science. Admittedly, the graphic character of comics dominates over the textual, whereas the reverse is true for history or science. The comic format is, nevertheless, closer to the history of science than purely graphic formats, like art canvas. The analogy between the comic and historiographic format is already closer than with others, before their texts are even written and their images even drawn.

1.1 Typical elements and their narrative functions
Figure 2 shows a prototypic comic strip with the usual elements being labelled in red. These elements are panels, gutters, captions, balloons, soundwords, and speedlines. The panels are snapshots of the story. They illustrate the narrative. The panels are separated by gutters. While these seem to be empty spaces, the readers need to construct the narrative from the snapshots by actively filling the void of the gutters with the help of their imagination. The readers have their minds in the gutters. The captions are explanatory comments that provide context. Balloons contain direct speech or thoughts of the protagonists. Soundwords evoke sound and speedlines evoke motion in the imagination of the readers.

Fig. 2: Typical elements of a comic (after Jüngst 2010, 14, red labels added).

1.2 Comparing the comic with the historiographic format
Comics and graphic novels lose their tension, when the information of the words simply duplicates that of the images. While this must be avoided in many genres put into the shape of a comic or graphic novel, such redundancy may be desired in educational or information comics. For example, in comics made for learning foreign languages images illustrate the meaning of words. Therefore, words and images represent the same things. Likewise, suspense is a desideratum in text-based thrillers and whodunits but not in scientific or historiographic writings.
    The comic panels (snapshots of the story) are analogous to pieces of the historical record. In history of science, these can be publications, data sets, pieces of correspondences, etc. The work of constructing a story from these snapshots is not left to the readers but provided by the author. This work is necessary for several reasons. First, the pieces of the historical record usually do not readily suggest a narrative by mere juxtaposition. Second, the pieces of the historical record are not necessarily snapshots of only one narrative. Sometimes they are too detailed and need to be stripped down, in order to represent a snapshot in the proposed narrative. Sometimes they are too meager and need to be augmented, in order to do so. And generally, they are very heterogeneous in media type and content. Some are texts, some diagrams, some data sets, some images, some theories, some methods, some instruments, some abstract, some concrete. Mere juxtaposition does not suggest a narrative. For these reasons, historians fill the spaces (gutters) between their record pieces with a lot of text that relates one piece to the next. Historians have their minds in the gutters.
    Balloons have their analogon in quotes and soundwords have a less direct analogon in metaphors and figurative speech. A soundword is an item of text that evokes a sound in the mind of the reader. Conversely, a metaphor or figure of speech is a piece of text that evokes an image in the mind of the reader. Historical narratives have no need for a special element evoking motion, like speedlines do in comics, because motion is simply described by words (e.g., ran, drove, speedily).
    What would happen, if a history comic transformed into a history book? The context providing captions would increase to pages of text. The gutters would expand even wider and fill with text forming whole chapters. The panels would shrink and attain various forms ranging from vintage images to vintage pieces of text. Soundwords would turn into metaphors and allegories and often migrate into the gutters. Speedlines would be replaced by words of motion and balloons by quotes of relevance. Text would thus invade the panels. Whenever authors conceived of producing their own illustrations of a historic situation or process, however, images would also invade the gutters. That way, the graphic novel would turn into a book of history as was well-nigh prerequisite, if the process was to count as a transformation of the comic into the historiographic format.

1.3 A difference that sheds a light on a philosophical issue
One unresolved issue of the history and philosophy of science concerns the relation of narrative and, respectively, scientific data or historical records (Morgan and Wise 2017). Does the narrative make (construe) sense of of the data and records, or does it discover their meaning? At first sight, the comic-format analogy seems to support the position that the images (analogous to data and records) imply the narrative, whereas the dominance of text in historical publications seems to support the opposite. Assume, however, a person with a brain damage of its narrative faculties. That person would neither be able to read the story from the images of a comic, no matter how narrow or absent the gutters, nor would it be able to get the narrative from the text of a history, no matter how detailed in prose and relieved of esoteric data and vintage records. Likewise, the significance of scientific data or historical records may often remain obscure without a narrative, but the narrative will remain an irrelevant fancy without data and records. That is, the difference between the dominance of images in comics and text in histories can be used instructively.

2 Graphic regimes in comics
2.1 Duration in comics (manipulating the time)
The space-time analogy is an inherent feature of sequential art (Eisner 2000, 25; McCloud 1994, 100). The sense for the passage of time works by associating spatial with temporal distance. Excluding literary tricks like flashbacks and so on, the chronology of images establishes a sense of time passing by. The comic reader connects images as though they were snapshots of a process in time. Just how much time passes from panel to panel is not determined by an external chronometer that ticks away independently of the narrative. It can be anything from a split second to an aeon. Again, the sequential art is closer to text-based narratives, where sentences can bridge various amounts of time, than non-sequential arts.

2.2 Forms of representation (transforming the matter)
Comics can represent something in a concrete, abstract, or metaphorical form. The form of representation can switch from one panel to the next and different forms of representation can even be interlaced within one panel. Figure 3 shows a page from a science-comic featuring all three forms of representation. The top panel even interlaces concrete with abstract representations. By abstract I do not mean the abstraction of iconic from real images as in the middle panel (fig. 3, the figure of Barak Obama). Such icons still represent things that eyes could see in reality. The arrows in the top panel of figure 3, however, represent scientific conceptions that are not visible to the eye. Here, the arrow coming in from the sun represents electromagnetic waves in the range of visible light. The arrows that go out from the earth and bounce back from the outer atmosphere, however, represent a mixture of things: electromagnetic waves in the infrared range (that is, heat waves) are partly reflected back to earth, but their energy is also absorbed by molecules and converted into the kinetic energy of these molecules. As kinetic energy of molecules it can no longer escape into space. That the visual representation of the greenhouse effect is incomplete, however, is irrelevant to the current point that comics can visualize abstract concepts of science.

Fig. 3: From The Great Transformation. The top panel interlaces concrete and abstract representations as well as tele- and macroscopic perspectives. The bottom panel is a metaphorical representation (after Hamann et al. 2014, 19, red explanations added).

2.3 Perspectives (jumping the dimensions of scale)
Comics jump dimensions of scale easily. For example, one panel may show a remote (telescopic) perspective on a situation and the next a macro-, micro- or even submicroscopic perspective. While this jumping of dimensions of scale usually occurs between panels, the different perspectives can also be interlaced within one panel. As already seen in the previous section, the top panel of figure 3 interlaces an abstract representation of the greenhouse effect with a concrete, though iconic, representation of Hans Joachim Schellnhuber. But is also interlaces a telescopic with a macroscopic perspective. Such jumps between and interlacing of perspectives also occurs in other forms of narrative. They are even necessary in order to overcome a rock-paper-scissors like dilemma of single perspectives in historiography (see following section 3).

3 A rock-paper-scissors dilemma of single perspectives
3.1 The gazebo retrospective
Gaddis (2002) opened his book with a gazebo perspective and suggested that it could represent the perspective of historians focusing on the past and firmly turning their back on present concerns. However, it may as well represent a limited perspective, where the author has an elevated point of view but does not see the goings-on in the valleys of the landscape. Abridged accounts, as can often be found in educational rather than historical or scientific publications, lead from a presumed past to a fancied present by connecting the landmarks of a research history in a straight line. They do not check whether the nether regions of that history support the straight narrative. Take the online lesson Key Events in the History of Biological Study by Meredith Mikell (2018) at the online learning platform Study.com. It states:
“Around the same time, British naturalist Charles Darwin proposed his theory of evolution by natural selection in his work, On The Origin of Species, following his famous voyage on the HMS Beagle to the Galapagos Islands. He was not the first or only scientist to suggest evolution as the cause of biodiversity; Alfred Wallace had independently also proposed that evolution occurs as descent with modification. The theories of Darwin and Wallace were highly controversial at the time, but establishing the concept of evolution is considered to be the single most important contribution to the study of biology. These concepts were furthered by the works of Gregor Mendel on inheritance, for which he was considered the father of genetics.” (Mikell 2018)
The next paragraph jumps to the molecular structure of DNA and credits Rosalind Franklin with the discovery of the double helix rather than James Watson and Francis Crick. Leaving the factual errors aside, this is an abridgement connecting landmark publications in a straight line without any regard of the contorted historical paths in between. Figure 4 (left) illustrates this, by allegory, with a path that seems to pass over three hilltops in a roughly straight line. One problem with the abridged gazebo account of Mikell (2018) is that the Mendelians turned against the Darwinians and proposed mutation as the ultimate source of variation instead of Darwin’s conditions of existence or Weismann’s sexual reproduction (Stoltzfus and Cable 2014). From an eagle-eye perspective (fig. 4, right), the street turns out to be curvy and loop back on itself at times.

Fig. 4: Path over hills. Left: gazebo perspective. Right: Map-reader's view. Circles represent hills.

3.2 Remote perspectives
The eagle-eye perspective has its own shortcomings. In our landscape analogy, the eagle does not see what goes on under canopies and roofs. The peers of a field might seem to move coherently into the same direction, when a closer surveillance would record significant disagreements among them. Unless such disagreements boil over into overt controversies, they often get glossed over in statements made from an eagle-eye perspective, in order to give an overview or introduce to the general topic. It is a small step from there to historical oblivion.
   For example, such amicable disagreements were important for the advance of theory on the evolutionary significance of sexual reproduction in the 1970s. Here is the context. In the late 1960s, evolutionary biologists took a U-turn that transformed sexual reproduction from the default mode of reproduction into an anomaly and, conversely, turned asexual reproduction into the expected but anomalously rare default mode. Weismann (1889, chap. 5) had rejected the conditions of existence as the ultimate source of heritable variation. Since he needed such a source of heritable variation, lest natural selection grind to a halt, he seized sexual reproduction as that source instead. Fisher (1930) and Muller (1932) in turn replaced it by mutation as the ultimate source of heritable variation, but they kept sexual reproduction as a mode of speeding up the population-wide process of adaptation. This implied a benefit of sex for groups, like populations or species, which got explicitly rejected in the late 1960s. Without this group benefit of sex, however, the ubiquity of sexual reproduction among animals and plants turned into an anomaly.
   The pioneers George Williams, John Maynard Smith, and Bill Hamilton were not mental triplings. They disagreed on fundamental issues like the cost of sexual reproduction or the relevance of parasites for its evolutionary maintenance. In particular, Williams (1975) conceived the cost of sex as the cost of reducing the relatedness, r, of parents to their offspring from 1 to 0.5, whereas Maynard Smith (1978) conceived it as the cost of males that contribute nothing (except sperm) to reproduction. Williams’s cost occurs in all sexual reproduction, whereas Maynard Smith’s is absent from species where gametes are of equal size or both parents care equally for the offspring.
   Likewise, Hamilton’s model assumptions disagreed with Williams’s. Hamilton modeled the differential effect of pathogens and parasites, that can quickly adapt to overcome their host’s defences, on asexual mutants in species with otherwise obligate sexual reproduction (e.g., Hamilton et al. 1990). Williams (2000) challenged the applicability of these red-queen models to organisms with a complex life-cycle of the strawberry-coral type. They produce (philopatric) offspring that stays close to its parents (and its parents’ pathogens and parasites) as well as dispersing offspring that gets away from the parents. However, the philopatric offspring is clonal and the dispersing offspring recombinant. If fast adapting parasites were the selective pressure keeping sexual reproduction beneficial, organisms with this life-cycle should do the opposite (see Dagg 2016; 2017 for details on these disagreements).
   Accounts of such amicable but important disagreements are more likely to be gotten from the reports of participants (e.g., Trivers 2010; 2015, 195) or, vicariously, through preserved pieces of correspondence (see Dagg 2016), biographical notices, etc. Lumping these pioneers together on issues they disagreed about is unhelpful historically though not necessarily in other respects:
“It is important to realize that the ‘cost of sex’ [meaning Maynard Smith’s cost of males] and the ‘cost of meiosis’ [meaning Williams’s cost of reducing relatedness] are not different concepts.” (Bell 1982, 63)
“George Williams, whose evolutionary ideas have always seemed convergent like those of a twin or older brother from whom I was parted at birth.” (Hamilton 1996, 354)
“Anisogamy leads to a cost of sex, whether the gamete types are produced by the same individual (hermaphroditism) or by different reproductive morphs (males and females) of the same population (Maynard Smith 1971a, 1978; Williams 1975; Bell 1982).” (Jokela et al. 2009, S43)
The first quote is factually wrong, the second states a sentiment rather than a fact, and the third is a simplification lumping three scholars together (in parenthesis).

3.3 The protagonist’s or participant’s report
Gaddis (2002, 4) mentions early on that the participants in a story usually lack an expanded horizon beyond their immediate experience, unless they can find some lookout point. This leads us back to the need of a gazebo and to a rock-paper-scissors like dilemma in historiography. Each perspective has its advantages over the antecedent and its disadvantage over the subsequent.
   The participant’s account of Robert Trivers (2010; 2015, 195), for example, relates how George Williams challenged one of Bill Hamilton’s theories during a memorial session for the deceased Hamilton.
“George got up and said, “I wish Bill were here today, because I have a bone to pick with him.” He then proceeded to pick that bone for the entire talk. It had to do with the evolution of sex and patterns of evidence that George had pointed out years ago that contradicted (so George said) aspects of Bill’s parasite approach. I thought it was wonderful. There were those who said that his talk was inappropriate, and why didn’t he just tell stories. But I thought it was perfect for the occasion. Both vintage George Williams – no wasted motion with that organism! – and a tribute to the enduring importance of Bill’s ideas.” (Trivers 2015, 195)
This account leaves the reader clueless as to what the disagreement of Williams with Hamilton was actually about. It lacks some lookout point from which to see the antecedent theories of Hamilton (red-queen model) and Williams (strawberry-coral model) as well. Fortunately, Williams (2000) managed to put his challenge on record (see previous section) in what seems to have been one of his last attempts at doing science before he drifted off into Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, it has been utterly ignored—possibly—because it occurred in an obituary rather than a regular scientific article.
In conclusion, one perspective is not sufficient for historiography. Therefore, the comic format seems to be a better analogy for what is required.

4 Applying the analogy to examples
4.1 The Song of the Dodo
David Quammen’s The Song of the Dodo (Quammen 2012) belongs to the genre of popular science writing. And its concerns are not purely historical but also the environmental crisis and species extinction. But it contains enough history of science and literary craftsmanship to illustrate some narrative analoga to the comic format.
   Quammen (2012, chap. 1) begins with describing the cutting of a Persian carpet into pieces as a metaphor for habitat fragmentation, unraveling of ecosystems, and species extinction. The comic-format analogon to metaphor is a soundword like:

Chapter 2 opens with cases of species and sub-species that used to live on particular islands, like Madagascar, Bali, or Lombok, but are now extinct (Quammen 2012, 17f). These concrete examples are narrated from a map-reader’s perspective. These mementos of the environmental crisis serve to fetch readers with contemporary environmental concerns where they stand and lead them on to a history of science journey. That journey begins with a gazebo retrospective (p. 18f) that enumerates some landmarks of island biogeography: Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, Alfred Wallace’s Island Life, Joseph Hooker’s publications on the botany of New Zealand, and The Theory of Island Biogeography (MacArthur and Edward Wilson 1967). Quammen does not molest his readers with this abstract theory itself, but they do get a hunch that such a theory exists.
   Quammen (2012, 19f) continues with some biographic information about Alfred Wallace and Charles Darwin. Before the biography style can put lay-readers off, however, he launches into full participation by interlacing the story of Wallace’s journey in the Malay Archipelago with accounts of his own journey on the tracks of Wallace. By this clever move, Quammen is able to tell the stations of Wallace’s journey from the participant’s perspective. Pieces of Wallace’s historical record get sprinkled into the personal experiences of Quammen or vice verse.
   Thus, before he even launched the story of Alfred Wallace in the Malay Archipelago, Quammen has run an impressive gamut of narrative ploys. He has jumped perspectives from map-reader’s view over gazebo retrospective to participant’s report. He has varied his forms of representation from metaphoric to concrete and even left a hint at the existence of an abstract theory. And he has interlaced the past with the present.

4.2 Dispelling the Darkness
While John van Wyhe’s Dispelling the Darkness (2013) also deals with Alfred Wallace, it is an entirely different animal from Quammen’s Dodo. Whye begins his narrative with an account of how Alfred Wallace conceived his idea of species transmutation through natural selection while suffering a fit of tropical fever on the island Ternate. That is, he begins with a biographic protagonist’s perspective. His chapter 8, however, can serve to illustrate the narrative analogon of zooming in from a telescopic to a macroscopic scale and simultaneously retarding the passage of time to slow-motion. In this chapter, Wyhe addresses the plagiarism-claim that Wallace’s famous Ternate essay, which galvanised Darwin into writing up his theory, must have reached Darwin earlier than the latter admitted. For this, Wyhe manipulates the dimensions of scale and time.
   The chapter begins with describing the island of Ternate (featuring several vintage maps), continues with describing Wallace’s house (featuring a floor map of Wallace’s house and a photography of a similar house). Wyhe reviews previous theories about these happenings (gazebo retrospective), before he zooms in to human life-size and decelerates, in order to dissect the happenings of February 1858. He takes on the hat of a ship-company’s clerk, who details the time-tables of departures and arrivals, as well as the hat of an archivist, who matches Wallace’s notebook entries with these time-tables.
   It is not my job, here, to judge the correctness of Wyhe’s conclusions. His chapter stands exemplary for many scholars who have studied the time-tables of potential ships for the Ternate essay in minute detail. In the current context, it illustrates the narrative strategies of jumping dimensions of scale and manipulating the passage of time in history of science writings.

5 Conclusion
I started by suggesting that the comic format is a particularly versatile analogy for historiography. Limiting the use of analogy in history to this one would, nevertheless, constrain authors unduly. If one wished to enrich one’s prose with a diverse oeuvre of metaphors, figures of speech, paintings etc. such a constraint would indeed be gagging. I do not propose to limit the use of analogy in historiography but, figuratively, try to open a new window to fruitful analogizing. I have no other aim, here, or conclusion. A long quote from The Landscape of History indicates that John Lewis Gaddis would have appreciated the use of such a versatile analogy and the fresh air that the young sequential art would have brought to historiographical considerations.
“I fear that this chapter has staggered, even more than the others, under the weight of the metaphors I’ve inflicted on it […]. I make no apologies for metaphors, however, mixed or otherwise. […] For it seems to me that empathy – whether with respect to the past, the present, or the future – absolutely requires them. If we’re to be open to impressions, which is what I’ve argued empathy means, we’ve also got to be comparative. And that, in turn, is just another way of saying that something is “like” something else. […] If metaphors help us think – if, to use yet a final one, they can open windows and let in fresh air – then we have every reason to rely on them, and to do so unashamedly. We need all the help we can get.” (Gaddis 2002, 128)
If the comic analogy is a solution to a problem that John Gaddis never had, then that will be due to the fact that he is an accomplished history writer. The above sections showed, nevertheless, that differences in the comic and historiographic format can be used instructively (section 1.3) and that similarities can be used to to gauge the narrative craftsmanship of a history writer (section 4). This analogy may well turn out to be a useful lamp for seeing structures and functions in historiographic narratives via comparing them with the graphic techniques of comics. If the comic analogy helps any student to decipher or compose a history of science, this article will have served its purpose.

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