Tag Archives: quotation

It is not the strongest of the species that survives

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most adaptable to change.”

From Charles Darwin Foundation gift shopThis quote (and hundreds of mutant kin) is often attributed to the naturalist Charles Darwin, but he said no such thing (see a recent post on the true source). The mistake is everywhere: in coffee table books, in natural history museums, and even in the gift shop of the Charles Darwin Foundation (photo shown here is from their Twitter feed — click to enlarge).

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most adaptable to change Charles DarwinThis misattribution is, of course, annoying to people who admire Charles Darwin and his actual writing (he wrote ~25 books, and thousands of letters). So to fight this, I thought I’d make a few slides that might eventually get included in Google search results, and thus available to people who want to use the quote in their business management slide decks. I made three versions. Please use these slides if you are able. Share them on Twitter. Etc. Every bit helps.

It is not the strongest of the species that survivesThe first version features a marine iguana with its mouth open, as if it was saying something. Darwin and others described these beasts as stupid looking, but the species are adapted to the islands in a rather spectacular way  — individuals evolved to swim underwater and eat algae — so it’s a rather good image to use for the quote. The second is a photograph of Charles Darwin, perfect for people who like the quote but really need a photograph of the chap who clearly inspired Megginson. The third slide is a photograph of Leon C. Megginson himself. He was a professor of business management in Louisiana. Download any of the slides by clicking on the thumbnails, then save.

It is not the strongest species that surviveAs proof of why we need to get the word out, please see Twitter feed below, updated to show recent Tweets that contain the quote. The phrase is especially adored by nutritionist bloggers, consultants, and business folks who spew inspirational quotes. It would be great if those quotes credited Dr Megginson.


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Graphic for reducing plagiarism in lectures

Plagiarism examplesThere are multiple reasons why students plagiarize more these days, but one cause that is never discussed is that students spend all day watching their teachers do it.  So, if you happen to be in position of minor influence in the education world, here’s a graphic to use in your next lecture, to get lecturers to better model the use of quotation marks and citations to their students. Following the conventions detailed on the slide certainly adds to the visual elements of a slide, which is annoying, but I argue that it’s important to send the message that lecturers value other people’s intellectual work. By the way, the quotation example is from Donald McCabe (PDF), who does great research on plagiarism. I chose the quote so that the slide can do double duty, communicating to teachers that their apathy has consequences. Also by the way, I made this graphic for my “Preventing plagiarism” page. If, by chance, you have no importance in the educational world, please consider sending this to those that do.


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Darwin and the “strongest of the species” quotation

This is old news, but hundreds of yearly posts on Twitter suggest not everyone on the planet got the memo, so I want to make another post about this quote:

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

Not only did Darwin not say that, he would never have had said that — it’s worded in a redundant, silly, illogical way.  The sentences are actually from Leon Megginson (details), a professor of marketing at Louisiana State University who died in 2010.

Quote on floor of the California Academy of Sciences, in San Francisco.

Above is a photograph I took of the quote on the floor of the Academy of Natural Sciences in San Francisco.  I photographed it because I was shocked Darwin would say something so stupid. (I told them, too, but they have only removed the attribution, not the quote, apparently. It’s etched in stone, as it were.)

I also wrote to the company that makes the Evolving Darwin Play Set (they never responded). Oh, well, just trying to do my part.

Colin Purrington Photography: Evolution graphics &emdash; It is not the strongest that survive

If you need a mindless quote for Twitter, try this, instead:

“It is not the strongest of the sentences that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that sounds most like Darwin.”

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