Darwin Gyan – Beyond Genetics

February 12 is celebrated as Darwin Day in memory of Charles Darwin. For most of the people who happily gave up biology after High School, the science of evolution is a memorable chapter in high school; we all love to use his terms in our PPTs and arguments. Natural selection, Adaptation through evolution, Survival of the fittest, etc., are extremely clichéd phrases in our lingo.

For Darwin Day last year, an eager biotechnologist wrote an epic post (at least in terms of word count). This year, we didn’t want to explain Darwin’s theories or even discuss his life. We wanted to share a collection of his quotes that find relevance beyond biosciences. Our eager biotechnologist (let’s call him BT), whose hopes to write another epic about his idol were dashed, sought the company of Copper & Kings. By the time we asked him to do a review of our ideas, he had imbibed quite a bit. But we decided to include his thoughts.

Darwin: Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.

This is somewhat self-explanatory. Right from the days of Copernicus, the non-scientific people have been more vocal about all things.

BT: Just look at how some politicos have developed their “confidence” into an art form – be it on issues like triple talaak or for drafting abortion laws.


Darwin: One general law, leading to the advancement of all organic beings, namely, multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die.

This is the mantra in most of the tech teams and even businesses. Teams expand rapidly, collaborations with a wide variety of skills develop, and the best among them thrive.

BT:  Many biologists, who know this rule by heart, use this to introduce their future partner to their parents – “Look at the advantages to our gene pool. Our future generations will be stronger and fairer…”


On change

Darwin: we are always slow in admitting any great change of which we do not see the intermediate steps

Looks like Darwin was inspired by Newton’s Second Law of Motion. Our inertia towards accepting any change introduced is directly proportional to the relevant reward. Where there is a penalty for not conforming to the change, we crib about it.

BT: Remember November 8? People are still cribbing about our Honorable Prime Minister and his policies. (Cheers to Modi Ji!)


On perseverance and regular correspondence

Darwin: If any man wants to gain a good opinion of his fellow men, he ought to do what I am doing: pester them with letters.

Perseverance in correspondence has its own rewards.

BT: Now we know why Sales teams use e-mail marketing to sell their products. Every day, there is at least one email from some of the top e-commerce companies. (Cheers to Markson!)


On integrated management

Darwin: … if man goes on selecting, and thus augmenting, any peculiarity, he will almost certainly modify unintentionally other parts of the structure, owing to the mysterious laws of correlation.

Management students learn about Integrated Management as part of their courses, where they learn to look at a system as a whole and not merely a combination of parts.

BT: In software teams, freshers and some senior developers learn this lesson painfully – I was working on enhancements to Module P. How was I to know that this can cause so many exceptions in Module B? And that QA guy is out to get me. Look at the number of bugs he has posted…(Cheers to our dev team!)


On nature and nurture

Darwin: Two distinct elements are included under the term “inheritance”— the transmission, and the development of characters.

This is a golden rule for many parents today. We are what we have picked up from our parents – some things came naturally and some required learning time.

BT: Went on to discuss his genetic origins – how his fighting spirit and fondness of spirits both can be attributed to nature and nurture.


On collaboration and improvisation

Darwin: In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.

No wonder most job ads require quick thinkers who can fit well into their current teams. In fact, many articles on LinkedIn now prioritize attitude over skills, saying that skills can be learned anytime.

BT: I’m not gonna discuss this with people who don’t care much for Copper & Kings!


On adaptability

Darwin: It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.

In today’s dynamic work environment, we should remember this rule the first and foremost. Change is part of progress – embrace change and thrive. If you give up, there is someone waiting in the wings to take over…

BT: One woman kidnaps 130 MLAs and they are coping with this change by adapting to new circumstances… they’re so used to being mothered that have all succumbed to Stockholm Syndrome and adopted a new “chinamma”…


On hope

Darwin: It is necessary to look forward to a harvest, however distant that may be, when some fruit will be reaped, some good effected.

Most of us have heard something similar from our mommas – never give up hope; every cloud has a silver lining … So nice of Darwin to share this piece of wisdom.

BT: Talks about how he looks forward to becoming the next Prime Minister…


On mind control

Darwin: The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognise that we ought to control our thoughts.

Our ancients have been preaching this wisdom for centuries. This thinking has received a humungous facelift with the revival of meditation techniques, mindfulness and more. When a scientist suggests this, you have to take his words seriously.

BT: zzzzzzzzzzzz…snore…zzzzzzzzzzz


P.S. BT was so appalled when he read this post, he decided to part ways with Copper & King. When anyone expresses surprise at this new sobriety, he quotes Darwin, “An American monkey, after getting drunk on brandy, would never touch it again, and thus is much wiser than most men!

About the Author

Geethanjali Tanikella is part of the Corporate Communication team at Mapmygenome. She is a writer and editor with over 14+ years of experience.