"Bicentennial celebrations have portrayed Darwin as a kindly old gentleman pottering around an English house and garden. What that misses is the way his ideas were abused in the 20th century and the way in which Darwin was wrong about certain key issues. He asserted that different races of mankind had traveled different distances along the evolutionary path — white Caucasians were at the top of the racial hierarchy, while black and brown people ranked below. [Racism] was a widespread prejudice in British society at the time, but he presented racial hierarchy as a matter of science. He also held that the poor were genetically second-rate — which inspired eugenics."When asked if, "all things considered, do you believe Darwin was a great luminary in the path of human progress?" he replied:
"What has the theory of evolution done for the practical benefit of humanity? It's helped our understanding of ourselves, yet compared to, say, the discovery of penicillin or the invention of the World Wide Web, I wonder why Darwin occupies this position at the pinnacle of esteem. I can only imagine he has been put there by a vast public relations exercise."That seems to be just about right to me.
The book is The Political Gene: How Darwin's Ideas Changed Politics but it does not seem to be listed on Amazon.ca yet.