Tag Archives: quote

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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Citing text in Powerpoint presentations

I created the PDF below because many students who post their talks on the internet seem to think it’s OK to plagiarize when using Powerpoint, Keynote, Prezi, etc.  It’s just six slides because the average person will get bored after the first slide, when references to elevator romance abruptly stop.  It ends on a few issues that have short answers, but you can add the details if you want.  If you can help spread the word, great.

Citing sources in an oral presentationPlease also see Kyle D. Stedman’s article on annoying sources.  And if you need a laugh, I highly recommend The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotations.  (Search for Colin Purrington if you’d like to see my contributions.)

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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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