Tag Archives: species

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.

And here’s a quote I dreamed up to explain what is going on:

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

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Sweet potato flesh can reduce yam confusion

So I have a silly, futile goal of reducing the confusion over sweet potatoes and yams in the United States. If you are a grocery store manager and are on board with this silly, futile goal, please consider displaying the flesh inside the different sweet potato varieties you sell. Doing that will reduce reliance on the strange habit of calling orange-fleshed sweet potatoes “yams.” You can easily show the insides of your sweet potatoes by chopping one in half and wrapping the cut end in plastic wrap, then placing back into the display shelf — you can even use a Sharpie to write stuff on the plastic (I’ve never seen this done … but I’m sure it would work). Or you can make signage that has a photograph of flesh. If you also add some thoughts on how to use them in cooking, even better. Below are two examples of ‘Nancy Hall’ and ‘Beauregard’ sweet potatoes that I cooked over the weekend.

Labels for sweet potatoesNote that the word “yam” does not appear on the sign. If you are the type that says, “What?? You idiot. That sure looks like a yam to me!” … please have look over my “Yams versus sweet potatoes” page. It probably won’t change your opinion, but you’ll at least know what a yam looks like.

On a side note, my ‘Nancy Hall’ sweet potatoes turned out great. I partially cooked them in the oven (coat with bacon fat first) and then sauteed the diced flesh with butter and hickory bark syrup. I used the ‘Beauregard’ to make biscuits. It turns out that biscuits are good with Chessmen cookie butter. Just saying.

Posted in Biology, Education, Food, Gardening, Graphic design, Photography, Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sweet potatoes and yams

Some photographs to get you excited about starches on Thanksgiving.  If you’re curious about the difference between yams, sweet potatoes, and potatoes, please refer to my page, “Yams and sweet potatoes are not potatoes.”

colin purrington photography: plants &emdash; yam-display-at-ethnic-grocer
The bin of “#1 American yams” is filled with sweet potatoes. The labeling mistake is a common one. The white yam and yellow yams are actual yams.
colin purrington photography: plants &emdash; purple-yams
Okinawan sweet potatoes label as yams. They are not yams.
colin purrington photography: plants &emdash; oriental-sweet-potato
Oriental sweet potatoes. Note that sweet potatoes are not potatoes.
colin purrington photography: plants &emdash; potatoes
Potatoes are unrelated to sweet potatoes.


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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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