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Monday, January 10, 2005

Tom Wolfe and Darwin?

Here's a piece of American Spectator's excellent interview with Tom Wolfe, which they've now happily posted on the net:

TAS: What do you predict for 21st-century journalism?

Tom Wolfe: I have no predictions. But I am struck by one thing: Try to think of a single important idea that has ever come out of these media. The fact is they are technically less advanced than print at getting across ideas and theories and simply explaining things in a way that can change history. I am struck by the fact that Karl Marx, this unpleasant man sitting alone in the British museum writing these abstruse essays, really did change the world. Look at Darwin. My God, what a powerful theory. Incidentally, I give that one about 40 more years, and it will go down in flames.

TAS: Why 40 years?

Tom Wolfe: Look at the Big Bang. That's a fairly recent theory, and it is already burning out. There are too many scientists who are saying this is rubbish. Just think about the theory of the Big Bang or this ridiculous theory about where the first cell came from. Now they say it probably came from outer space when an asteroid hit the earth and a few of these things bounced out. It is because of all this silly stuff that Darwinism is going to go down in flames.

1 comment:

Jay D. Homnick said...

Well, I am on the record as saying that Darwin is ready to be defeated right now; no need to wait forty more years. But of course his main point is the same as mine, that it is ripe for burial.

As for his notion that the big ideas come out of print, he's right, but his rightness misses the point. The purpose of such media as the Internet is to facilitate those things that can be done by committee, to speed up that process.

Of course, the Internet cannot produce Mark Twain any more than it can produce Beethoven. What it can do is create the Encyclopedia Brittanica in a fraction of the time. It has the secondary purpose of getting Twain's message into more hands more quickly.

Look how powerful a weapon for truth the Internet was in the Dan Rather forged documents case. Besides for the political fallout of the event, there was a powerful lesson achieved in the demonstration of how good minds and educations in various specialties were able to interact effectively with no space limitations and drastically reduced time limitations.