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Andrew Berry on Alfred Russel Wallace, tweetified

May 4, 2013

Berry gave a wonderful, witty after-dinner talk tonight. My tweets (@trappedinlab) didn’t capture this wonder or wit very well, but here they are (in reverse chronological order, as usual).


8:35pm
Wallace’s reaction to “On the Origin of Species”: admiration. Wallace didn’t think he (Wallace) could have produced something similar.

8:22pm
Berry on teaching: If you can’t interest people in how they evolved, perhaps you should get another job.

8:15pm
Berry is one of the “small-print authors” of the book “How Life Works” by James Morris, Daniel Hartl et al. Evolution is the theme.

8:12pm
Berry’s solutions: (2) Tell stories to engage and inspire.

8:11pm
Berry’s solutions: (1) Thematic Content Management. e.g., Wallace organized The Malay Archipelago thematically, not chronologically.

8:09pm
The challenge (according to Berry):
* So much STUFF to communicate.
* Students who are disengaged, distracted.

8:07pm
And now for Berry’s Wallace-inspired thoughts on teaching biology.

8:06pm
Wallace was also quite modest. He titled his major work on evolution “Darwinism.” He contributed to his own obscurity, Berry says.

8:05pm
Wallace became a spiritualist, and disavowed the role of natural selection in human evolution.

8:04pm
After the co-publication: Darwin knuckled down and published books on evolution.

7:58pm
Wallace was happy to co-publish with Darwin, whom he regarded as a great scholar. He felt happy to have hit the big time, in a sense.

7:56pm
He was rescued after 10 days at sea.

7:54pm
Returning from 4 years of specimen collections in the Amazon, Wallace lost most of his specimens when his boat caught fire!

7:46pm
Wallace, on the other hand, was very interested on “the species problem” from a young age.

7:44pm
For Darwin, the voyage of the Beagle was simply an adventure — a chance to study more natural history.

7:42pm
July 1, 1858: Darwin and Wallace co-present their theory of natural selection at a Linnean Society meeting.

7:34pm
Speaker Andrew Berry went to Darwin’s high school, Shrewsberry School … which Darwin hated.

7:32pm
Why were both discovers of evolution British? In part, the expanse of the British empire allowed both to travel and study extensively.

7:30pm
At Cambridge, Darwin found William Paley’s arguments on Natural Theology (e.g., the watchmaker analogy) compelling.

7:23pm
Berry: Why is Darwin so much better known than Wallace even though they co-discovered evolution?

7:22pm
More on NWBIO 2013 speaker Andrew Berry: http://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k5526&pageid=icb.page264537

7:15pm
Pre-talk activity: the sperm whale tooth for hosting NWBIO is passed from Everett C.C. to this year’s host, Columbia Basin College.

7:11pm
(NWBIO = Northwest Biology Instructors’ Organization = http://nwbio.net )

7:09pm
I was told that Berry’s visit is sponsored by the publisher @WH_Freeman. Thanks, W.H.!

7:07pm
The speaker is Andrew Berry of Harvard, here to help us commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of A.R. Wallace (1823-1913).

7:06pm
Tonight’s post-dinner talk at NWBIO 2013: “100 years on: Alfred Russel Wallace and a few Wallace-inspired thoughts on teaching biology.”

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