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.”

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most adaptable to change Charles DarwinThis quotation is one of the most popular and misattributed phrases on the internet — most people think it’s something Charles Darwin wrote. He didn’t. It’s from Leon Megginson, a Louisiana professor of business management.

To encourage proper attribution, I thought I’d seed the internet with three images that give Dr Megginson his credit. The hope is that these images might eventually get included in Google search results when people are searching for pre-made slides that have the quote. 

It is not the strongest species that surviveThe first version features a Galapagos marine iguana with its mouth open, as if it was saying something. It’s actually yawning, so use cautiously if you are a boring speaker. 

The second slide is a photograph of Leon C. Megginson himself, looking confident in front of chalkboard. 

The final image is a photograph of Charles Darwin, the man who clearly inspired Megginson. 

It is not the strongest of the species that survivesAs proof of why we need to get the word out about the quote’s source, here’s a feed showing how all the recent usage on Twitter.:

Most of the tweets are from nutritionists, motivational speakers, and business management types.

By the way, the misattribution exists even among people who should know better. E.g., the quote is found on the wall of the Charles Darwin Foundation’s gift shop, and on the floor of the California Academy of Science.

If you need an actual quote from Darwin, there are hundreds of thousands to choose from. Just browse Darwin Online for all his books (~42 of them!), articles (~246), letters, and notebooks. There’s also the Darwin Correspondence Project.

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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.”

And if you need slides, here are three with the quote, properly attributed.

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