SACREDFIG

Three Random Pieces on J.B.S Haldane

In Politics, Science on August 9, 2009 at 4:41 pm

1. My friend Prasad sends this excerpt from J. B. S. Haldane’s views on the Soviet cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, and Marxism:

“Similarly [Gargarin] was no doubt tested with psychological shocks such as loud sounds, flashes of light, and so on, to see that they neither affected his heart nor stopped him doing a job. In both these sets of tests he was probably helped by joining the Communist Party, as he has recently done. The acceptance of Marxism leads to the disappearance of certain kinds of worry, which may play a part in causing gastritis, anomalous heart beats, and so on. And membership of the party might suffice to give an extra few minutes’ endurance of extreme hardship.”

2. There is a story, possibly apocryphal, of the distinguished British biologist, J. B. S. Haldane, who found himself in the company of a group of theologians. On being asked what one could conclude as to the nature of the Creator from a study of his creation, Haldane is said to have answered, “An inordinate fondness for beetles.” (Source: Hutchinson, G. E. 1959. Homage to Santa Rosalia or why are there so many kinds of animals? American Naturalist, 93: 145-159.) [ Also check out this link]

3. And here, finally, is a video of the great evolutionary biologist John Maynard Smith, recounting the story of Haldane’s last words, and revealing his profound affection for his mentor.


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