Saturday, October 16, 2010

Skin Pigmentation And Darwin

When searching Ted Talks online this week, I came across one by Nina Jablonski on skin pigmentation. Jablonski is not against Darwinism from what I can tell from her talk, although she does point out a flaw in part of his line of thinking (Jablonski, 2009). According to Jablonski, in a book published after the Origin of Species (2009) in 1871 that one of the most interesting things about humans is the differences in skin color (Jablonski, 2009). Darwin does not think that this has to do with the climate that people live in, but Jablonski does not enlighten us as to what he does think skin pigmentation is a result of (Jablonski, 2009). Jablonski goes on to show that climate does have an effect on skin pigmentation as most humans were dark when they first came into existence as they lived close to the equator, but as they spread out the skin pigmentation became lighter (Jablonski, 2009).
This plays nicely into our discussion from this past week as to what causes the variations in different types of animals, and in this case humans. Doctor Stephen Ogden says that Samuel Butler thinks that variation comes as a result of effort, desire, and behavior (Ogden, 2010). In this case it would be behavior that has had an effect on the changes in skin pigmentation as depending on where the humans were living, the darker or lighter skin a human will have. This is not due to slight variations based on human genetics, but instead the environment that you are living in. This opinion would help strengthen Butler’s attacks on Darwin as it does help show that Darwin was not right about everything in terms of evolution.
Jablonski does say that it is unfortunate that Darwin did not have NASA’s mapping systems that are currently in place to look at different types of radiation entering the atmosphere to be able to compare it to the darkness of human’s skins (Jablonski, 2009). There is also recognition that Darwin was aware of the differences in skin pigmentation as he notes that there are changes depending on the location on earth that the human colony is living (Jablonski, 2009). The difference could be that there had already been a mix in the different colors of individuals all over the earth, so Darwin was not able to see the changes due to environmental factors. Either way, this is one point that Darwin missed the mark on.
Jablonski, N (2009). Nina Jablonski breaks the illusion of skin color. Retrieved October 16, 2010 from Ted Talks website at:
Ogden, S (2010). Humanities 321 Lecture Critics of Darwinism. Simon Fraser University Burnaby Campus, Fall 2010.
Darwin, C. (2009). On The Origin of Species.
Strand, London; Penguin books

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