Category Archives: Graphic design

Trigger warning for creationist visitors to National Zoo

Here’s a photograph I took several years ago at the National Zoo’s “Think Tank” exhibit on primate cognition. Darwin Day is one week so I thought I’d share.

Colin Purrington Photography: Evolution graphics &emdash; Think Tank warning for creationists

The text is a little hard to read so here’s transcription:

“This exhibit is about animal thinking. It contains some things you may agree with, some you may disagree with, and others that may even trouble you. Come explore and see what you think.” 

The warning sign was crafted by Smithsonian staff to cater to snowflake creationists who complained about the “Changes over millions of years have resulted in today’s humans” panel that covered the age of the earth, human evolution, and how natural selection works. 

The “see what you think” part suggests to visitors that the facts presented within are up for debate and thus shouldn’t undermine somebody’s alternative views about human origins or the age of the earth. But, of course, the warning signage undermines the experience for all visitors. I.e., a curious but uninformed visit might assume that the exhibits are just wild guesses about what might have happened. A shameful use of tax dollars, in my opinion.

Gift ideas for evolution fans

I finally put a few evolution-related images on a Shoppe page … just in case you need a geeky Christmas gift for somebody.

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.