Logo from the Second International Eugenics Conference, 1921

HPSC0070 Eugenics in Science and Culture

Eugenics combined science and politics to create social policies intent on “improving the stock” of some human groups at the expense of others. This module investigates eugenics as a history of science and technology operating in cultures around the world. It considers eugenics as a history of people creating, interpreting, rejecting, and suffering from decisions grounded in scientific (and pseudo-scientific – this boundary is important)…

HPSCGA24 Science in the Nineteenth Century | Professor Joe Cain | UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS)

HPSC0081 Science in the Nineteenth Century (Teaching)

The nineteenth century saw the origin of much of what we might identify as “modern” scientific and technological research and practice. Laboratories, factories explorations, empires – all had scientific significance and all were paramount in nineteenth century science. This is also perhaps the period which has enjoyed most sustained attention from historians of science. This course will give a critical introduction to some major themes…

Edward K. Ford (1908) The Brown Dog and His Memorial | Protest | Professor Joe Cain

Dissertations and Research Projects (Undergraduates) (Teaching)

Undergraduates in UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS) undertake final year projects resulting in dissertations or research reports. Professor Joe Cain supervises some students in this work, as do all academic staff in STS. The formal UCL module codes for include: HPSC0041 Dissertations (formerly HPSC3004) For students undertaking: History and Philosophy of Science BSc Science and Society BSc Sociology and the Politics of…

Charles Darwin's Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (Penguin Classics), 1890 second edition, edited by Professor Joe Cain and Dr Sharon Messenger ISBN 9780141439440

Charles Darwin’s Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals (1890 second edition) (book)

He who admits, on general grounds, that the structure and habits of all animals have been gradually evolved, will look at the whole subject of Expression in a new and interesting light. (Charles Darwin) New edition, with an upgrade First published in 1872, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals was a book at the very heart of Darwin’s research interests – a…

Three snouters: Archirrhinos haeckelii, Rhinolimacius conchicauda, Nasobema lyricum (Order Rhinogradentia), from Stumpke (1961).

The Snouters and Gerolf Steiner (alias Harald Stumpke)

Every scientific discipline has inside jokes. Why? Because they perform social or intellectual work. In this post, Professor Joe Cain links jokelore to his project on one of biology’s most famous jokes, the Rhinogradentia, or “snouters”. This page supports a research paper published on the subject and provides additional materials. Historical research paper on Rhinogradentia Joe Cain. (2018). In My Tribe: What the Snouters (and…

Excerpt from photograph of conference attendees at 1947 Princeton conference organised by National Research Council's Committee on Common Problems of Genetics, Paleontology, and Systematics

Exploring the Borderlands (book)

The Society for the Study of Evolution and its journal, Evolution, have their origins in the work of a small national committee of the National Research Council. This was organised by George Gaylord Simpson and Theodosius Dobzhansky in 1942. Events of World War Two intervened such that Ernst Mayr took effective control in 1943. The Committee on Common Problems of Genetics and Paleontology (later Systematics was…

Theodosius Dobzhansky (1900-1975) was an experimental population geneticist and Soviet émigré to the US. In 1943, he visited Professor Andre Drefus in Sao Paolo as part of a US “good neighbour” programme. In this photograph, Dobzhansky (centre) and two unnamed Brazilian colleagues are trapping Drosophila fruit flies in nearby forest. Dobzhansky was key to the synthesis period.

Descended from Darwin (book)

The synthesis period in evolutionary studies (most people call this the “evolutionary synthesis” of the 1930s and 1940) has had a standard narrative for many years, but pressure is increasing for a revision. This book, Descended from Darwin, began as a conference at the American Philosophical Society Library, Philadelphia (22–23 October 2004). The goal of the conference was to investigate how scholarship might move forward. Conference…

William Jennings Bryan arrives in Dayton, Tennessee for 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial

Last Message of William Jennings Bryan (book)

As the Scopes ‘Monkey’ Trial came to an end in July 1925, William Jennings Bryan expected to deliver the prosecution’s closing argument. Procedural tactics by the defence prevented this. The trial ended without the long-awaited climatic moment in front of the world’s media. Five days later, unexpectedly, Bryan died. In their bereavement, supporters focused on Bryan’s unspoken words as their last chance to connect with…

D'OH - Homer Simpson

How Extremely Stupid: Source for Huxley’s Famous Quote

When asked about the Origin of Species and the theory of natural selection, Thomas Henry Huxley told friends, “how extremely stupid not to have thought of that”. This is well-known folklore, and much has been made of it. Though often repeated, it rarely is traced to its source and considered in its full frame. Just where did Huxley say this, and what’s the original context?…