# Terminology - "Evolutionist"

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I think that the word evolutionist has three meanings. An evolutionist could be someone who studies evolution, who concluded that evolution is true, or who believes evolution.

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Sayonara³ - Give it a rest already! What the heck is with you?

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Sayonara³ - Give it a rest already! What the heck is with you?

That is not the reply I was hoping for and I expected more from someone of your apparent capabilities.

If you no longer care, then simply stop replying.

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That is not the reply I was hoping for etc.

And I was hoping that you'd be able to let go of your combative attitude. Its undesirable to all.

Olkay. Fine. I see you're one of those people who just have to have the last word or jibe in. So post another one and get it over and let it die after that for cripes sake!

In that case, shouldn't an evolutionist only be one that studies evolution just like a physicist studies physics? Hence, only evolutionary biologists are "true" evolutionists, according to this.

No?

To be precise you're correct. The analogy is nor 100% perfect. An evolutionist is an adherent to evolution be it a layman or an expert.

Edited by Pmb
Consecutive post/s merged.
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And I was hoping that you'd be able to let go of your combative attitude.

Then stop making this thread feel like such a struggle for the people who are trying to participate. No more false accusations of impropriety from the staff, no more demonstrably untrue claims of "posters denouncing me and my character", and no more bullying members with the threat of the dreaded ignore list. Everything else should sort itself out.

Do we have an accord?

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I think that the word evolutionist has three meanings. An evolutionist could be someone who studies evolution, who concluded that evolution is true, or who believes evolution.

shouldn't an evolutionist only be one that studies evolution just like a physicist studies physics? Hence, only evolutionary biologists are "true" evolutionists, according to this.

No?

To be precise you're correct. The analogy is nor 100% perfect. An evolutionist is an adherent to evolution be it a layman or an expert.

Well, since Pmb has so proudly proclaimed that he has me on ignore, I'm not optimistic about getting a response from him, however, perhaps another reader can help me with this. I asked:

What about those people that accept evolution, but don't study biology or don't actually study evolution either?

We've been through this. I accept relativity, but I'm not a relativist. I accept gravity, but I'm not a gravitationalist. I accept germ theory, but I'm not a germ theorist. I accept lots of things, and those things I accept provide no reason for such a label when describing me. What does everyone suggest makes evolution any different, where IT supposedly needs a special label yet the others do not?

Any thoughts? I accept physics, but I'm not a physicist. I accept mathematics, but I'm not a mathemetician. I accept medicine, but I'm not a doctor. I accept lots of things and my acceptance of those things does not come with a label.

What is it about evolution that is supposed to make it different? Some posters keep re-asserting their definition of "evolutionist,' claiming that it is more than just a person who studies evolution... that it is also a person (layman or otherwise) who has accepted evolution as true. Why does evolution need this special word "evolutionist" to apply to anyone who accepts it, when thermodynamics, germ theory, gravity, and the countless others do not? What am I missing here? I accept thermodynamics, but I'm not a thermodynamicist. Why am I supposed to be an evolutionist for accepting evolution?

Edited by iNow
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Well, since Pmb has so proudly proclaimed that he has me on ignore, I'm not optimistic about getting a response from him, however, perhaps another reader can help me with this.

Pmb has left anyway so I wouldn't expect any more posts from him.

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I think that the word evolutionist has three meanings. An evolutionist could be someone who studies evolution, who concluded that evolution is true, or who believes evolution.

What about some one who holds a prejudiced bigotry against evolution?

e.g

Person A: "I believe in creation - you guys are stupid for looking at the rocks"

Person B: "you can't say that! That's Evolutionist!"

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Is it possible that there hasn't been a response since everyone agrees with me? Nah... there's no freakin' way. Let's just consider this a bump then.

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Is it possible that there hasn't been a response since everyone agrees with me? Nah... there's no freakin' way. Let's just consider this a bump then.

It is probably more that the question is answered, so there is no point in continuing. See my earlier post, pmb saying that he's fine with locking the thread, and mod notes about the thread.

I think that the OP's question has been fully answered. Here's my summary of what is on-topic:

1) Some people object to the word evolutionist because it can be viewed as saying they accept evolution on faith, hence, an insult. It could also be seen as an insult against all of science, since it would suggest scientists not following the scientific method.

2) Some people object to the word evolutionist because creationists use it as a weapon, so accepting the label compromises their debate position.

3) It seems that many professionals do not use the term evolutionist. I suggest that that is because in the scientific community, evolution is the default position and therefore using the term would be almost redundant (like the phrase "round earther" would be redundant for most people so that it is used mainly by people in the flat earth society, or discussions with them). It is used by some (many???) professionals who talk about evolution to the general public, despite others taking insult at the use.

4) Mokele suggested that we use the label creationist but refuse the label evolutionist, to marginalize the creationists (see post 32). This seems wrong to me, but is probably another reason people object to using the word evolutionist.

Unless there is more to this, the OP has been answered about as much as it ever will.

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No, my question Mr Skeptic, not PMBs. None of your bullet points (AFAICT) answer why acceptance of evolution warrants a label whereas acceptance of relativity, gravity, thermodynamics, glacial retreat, mathematics, etc... don't. You would only call someone a relativist if they studied relativity. You would only call them a physicist if they studied physics. You would only call them a thermodynamicist if they studied thermodynamics. Simply accepting these explanations does not bring a label.

What is it that you propose makes evolution different?

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What is it that you propose makes evolution different?

1. There isn't a huge fraction of the population that doubts the existence of gravity, or thermodynamics, or 1+1=2.

2. The vast majority of laymen cannot understand general relativity, or the Navier-Stokes equations, or Lie algebra.

You are a hypocrite talking about labels.

Are you a denier of the fact that human contributions of CO2 to the atmosphere are resulting in higher average global temperatures... Yes/No?

Did you get that straight from Limbaugh, or have you been frequenting other neocon sites and come here to parrot what you've read?

He's bordering on fundamentalist. ... Those Canadians, eh? Just drinkin' some Molsen and watchin' hockey. Who are these moose chasin' bumpkins to talk politics? Go back to yer ice fishin', eh... before the ice all melts.

Well, of course many of these people being religiots

From post #2 in this closed thread

nation and constitution getting so overrun with religiot[/b'] ideas

Labels, even very derogatory labels, are apparently perfectly OK when you are the one using them, iNow.

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No, my question Mr Skeptic, not PMBs. None of your bullet points (AFAICT) answer why acceptance of evolution warrants a label whereas acceptance of relativity, gravity, thermodynamics, glacial retreat, mathematics, etc... don't. You would only call someone a relativist if they studied relativity. You would only call them a physicist if they studied physics. You would only call them a thermodynamicist if they studied thermodynamics. Simply accepting these explanations does not bring a label.

What is it that you propose makes evolution different?

Labels are used to convey information. A label that conveys no information need not be used. Why scientists don't tend to use the label "evolutionist" is probably because it is implicit in their group. Why do "round earthers" not refer to themselves as "round earthers" unless they are interacting with or talking about the flat earth society? Same reason. Much as you might not like it, many in the general public don't accept evolution, and this results in labels separating the people who do and do not accept it.

As a curiosity, when did the label creationist become widely used? According to wiki:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_creationism

The term creationism in its broad sense covers a wide range of beliefs and interpretations, and was not in common use before the late 19th century.

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You are a hypocrite talking about labels.

<...>

Labels, even very derogatory labels, are apparently perfectly OK when you are the one using them, iNow.

I'm not here arguing against labels, nor am I claiming that I do not use them. I'm challenging the use of one of them, specifically, evolutionist, as it is the evolved version of Darwinist as best I can tell (like creationism "evolved" into ID). It doesn't make sense to me that people who accept evolution need this label as (for all intents and purposes) acceptance of evolution is the most reasonable and evidence based position. I'm trying to figure it out. I'm not a hypocrit, I'm just a kind-hearted jerk sometimes who likes to push very hard to find the root of an issue. Oobladee ooblada.

1. There isn't a huge fraction of the population that doubts the existence of gravity, or thermodynamics, or 1+1=2.

So, if I read you correctly, you're suggesting that it's the fact that there is a large group of doubters in the population, and as a result, we use this term to further the us/them mentality? Basically, it's the "logical opposite" of "creationist," and this is more of a "truth is contained by its opposite" type scenario?

2. The vast majority of laymen cannot understand general relativity, or the Navier-Stokes equations, or Lie algebra.

I'm not really sure I understand the application of this particular point. Are you saying that the majority of laymen CAN understand evolution, so it gets a label while the others do not?

Merged post follows:

Consecutive posts merged
As a curiosity, when did the label creationist become widely used? According to wiki:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_creationism

The term creationism in its broad sense covers a wide range of beliefs and interpretations, and was not in common use before the late 19th century.

This gave me an idea. Why not search wiki for the term "evolutionism?" Interesting what came up.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionism

Evolutionism refers to doctrines of evolution, and more specifically to a widely held 19th century belief that organisms are intrinsically bound to improve themselves, and that changes are progressive and arise through inheritance of acquired characters, as in Lamarckism. The belief was extended to include cultural evolution and social evolution. The term can be used to refer to acceptance of the modern evolutionary synthesis, a scientific theory that describes the causes of biological evolution. The term is also used in a broader sense as a world-view covering a wide variety of topics, including chemical evolution as an alternative term for abiogenesis or for nucleosynthesis of chemical elements, galaxy formation and evolution, stellar evolution, spiritual evolution, technological evolution and universal evolution which seeks to explain every aspect of this world in which we live.

In the creation-evolution controversy, creationists often call those who accept the validity of the modern evolutionary synthesis "evolutionists" and the theory itself as "evolutionism." Some creationists and creationist organizations, such as the Institute of Creation Research, use these terms in an effort to make it appear that evolutionary biology is a form of secular religion.

The Institute for Creation Science treats evolution as a category of religions, including atheism, fascism, humanism and occultism. In this way, creationists support their claim that the scientific theory of evolution is in its basics a belief, dogma, ideology or even a religion, rather than a scientific theory. The basis of this argument is to establish that the creation-evolution controversy is essentially one of interpretation of evidence, without any overwhelming proof (beyond current scientific theories) on either side. Creationists tend to use the term evolutionism in order to suggest that the theory of evolution and creationism are equal in a philosophical debate. The terms "evolutionism" and "evolutionist" are rarely used in the scientific community as self-descriptive terms.

Anthropologists and biologists refer to "evolutionists" in the 19th century as those who believed that the cultures or life forms being studied are evolving to a particular form (see Platonic form). This original theory of evolution was seen as pseudo-science by its contemporaries, similar in standing as phrenology. Very few scientists today, if any, believe that evolution in culture or biology works that way, and serious discussions generally take caution to distance themselves from that perspective.

Evolutionary biology explains biotic changes in terms of internal processes and gradual development as a natural progression of previously existing lifeforms. Evolution neither denies nor requires a role for divine intervention. Before the 19th century there were a number of hypotheses regarding the evolution of all material phenomena: suns, moons, planets, earth, life, civilization, and society. The number of hypotheses being propounded increased dramatically in the middle of the 19th century.

In modern times, the term evolution is widely used, but the terms evolutionism and evolutionist are rarely used in scientific circles to refer to the biological discipline. The term evolution was popularised during the 19th century by Herbert Spencer to mean cultural evolution; i.e. the increasing complexity of cultures (see History of the theory of cultural evolution) — it was only later that it acquired its biological meaning. Advocacy of such theory was called evolutionism. Some scientists object to the terms evolutionism and evolutionist because the -ism and -ist suffixes accentuate belief rather than scientific study. Conversely, creationists use those same two terms partly because the terms accentuate belief, and partly perhaps because they provide a way to package their opposition into one group, seemingly atheist and materialist, designations which are considered to be irrelevant to natural science.

Fascinating. It's strongly aligned with the arguments which have been made against its use in this very thread... For example, the argument being made when the thread "started going downhill in post #3."

Edited by iNow
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My main point is that the words "evolutionist" and "creationist" appeared at about the same time, and are kind of like the names of two "debate teams".

Again though: Why is the label "round earther" not used by the round earthers? Why is that label mostly used by the flat earth society, and discussions with or about them?

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it Really gets confusing when someone such as myself is Both an evolutionist and a creationist (if you Must use labels).

although personally I dont care what people call me, its what I answer to that counts

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Pmb has left anyway so I wouldn't expect any more posts from him.

Pmb is actually Pete. For some reason he has been using an older account which was never deleted. The Pmb account has now been merged into Pete's account and he has decided not to leave after all.

So any posts quoted as "Pmb" now show as being posted by the user Pete.

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So, if I read you correctly, you're suggesting that it's the fact that there is a large group of doubters in the population, and as a result, we use this term to further the us/them mentality? Basically, it's the "logical opposite" of "creationist," and this is more of a "truth is contained by its opposite" type scenario?

The opposite sides in a debate are often labeled. Labels can be useful when they properly encapsulate a whole lot of verbiage on one word. There was an interesting debate at the end of the 19th century, the Quaternion Wars, between those who advocated the use of Hamilton's quaternions versus those who advocated the use of Heaviside's/Gibb's vector analysis. The debate between the quaternionists and the vectorialists spanned 20 years across multiple technical journals. Pick almost any controversial topic. The various sides will have labels.

Even more relevant to the topic at hand is the debate between the steady state and big bang cosmologists. Hoyle coined the term "big bang" as a derogation. Lacking a good name for themselves, the big bang cosmologists usurped that label. Usurping a label invented by the other side in a debate is a very adult way of attacking the use of said label.

For example, the argument being made when the thread "started going downhill in post #3."

Note well: I specifically picked post #3 as the point where things started going downhill, not post #2. Phi made the point regarding "evolutionist" implying a belief in evolution in post #2, and he did so succinctly and without a bunch of childish rhetoric.

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Phi made the point regarding "evolutionist" implying a belief in evolution in post #2, and he did so succinctly and without a bunch of childish rhetoric.
I ended up having to defend some misrepresentations about what I was talking about though, and I never got a good response regarding the difference between "belief" / "acceptance" for science and religion. I still think this distinction lies at the heart of any anger over the label.

Doesn't studying something thoroughly enough to understand it before accepting it carry more weight than accepting something because it fits in with your spirituality? And isn't that perhaps why one might object to being lumped together with the other? And note that I'm not trying to marginalize anyone's religious beliefs.

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I ended up having to defend some misrepresentations about what I was talking about though, and I never got a good response regarding the difference between "belief" / "acceptance" for science and religion. I still think this distinction lies at the heart of any anger over the label.

Calling people names is a childish thing to do. It is done for two reasons: to belittle and to get a rise. I'm short, which of course led some to call me "Shorty" ages ago. That didn't work because it didn't get the desired ballistic response. Suppose that instead of asking what is wrong with the term evolutionist, Pete had come in as a creationist and used the term derogatorily. Post #2: Backfire. Post #3: Bingo!

You had to defend those misrepresentations in part because iNow went ballistic in post #3. His response there is part of the reason some creationists continue to use the terms Darwinist and evolutionist. The ballistic response derails the debate.

Many of you missed my point. Just as a ballistic response to a label derails your side of an argument, usurping the label can derail the opponent. That is exactly what happened in cosmology. "Big bang" was invented as derogatory term. The big bang cosmologists usurped the label. Doing so took a weapon away from the steady state cosmologists and it made the steady state cosmologists look stupid.

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No, my question Mr Skeptic, not PMBs. None of your bullet points (AFAICT) answer why acceptance of evolution warrants a label whereas acceptance of relativity, gravity, thermodynamics, glacial retreat, mathematics, etc... don't. You would only call someone a relativist if they studied relativity. You would only call them a physicist if they studied physics. You would only call them a thermodynamicist if they studied thermodynamics. Simply accepting these explanations does not bring a label.

What is it that you propose makes evolution different?

IMO your premise is wrong. I would call you a physicist, mathematician, or any of those other labels if you exhibited some knowledge of them and believed them to explain reality. You may not be a professional or even good or accomplished in any of those fields but the label still applies. Whether one chooses to accept the label is largely dependent on what the person being labelled believes it means to the one applying it. Personally, I do not find the term "evolutionist" offensive in the least but that is mainly because i find the definition to be unambiguous.

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Calling people names is a childish thing to do. It is done for two reasons: to belittle and to get a rise. I'm short, which of course led some to call me "Shorty" ages ago. That didn't work because it didn't get the desired ballistic response. Suppose that instead of asking what is wrong with the term evolutionist, Pete had come in as a creationist and used the term derogatorily. Post #2: Backfire. Post #3: Bingo!
I also think the opening post was loaded by suggesting there is something psychologically wrong with people who get angry with a label like evolutionist. I tried to steer clear of that but putting this thread in this section may have doomed it from the start.

You had to defend those misrepresentations in part because iNow went ballistic in post #3. His response there is part of the reason some creationists continue to use the terms Darwinist and evolutionist. The ballistic response derails the debate.
I agree, and iNow has admitted, that his response was overly passionate. I further agree with you that a dismissive or insulting response neither helps set the tone nor keeps it from devolving into combative posturing.

However, it was Pete's choice to lump my responses with iNow's. He was questioned about it by several people, including those who seemed to be supporting him. He chose to ignore those responses, and due to his open declaration regarding iNow, it was hard NOT to assume he was putting all those who's answers he didn't agree with on his Ignore List.

Many of you missed my point. Just as a ballistic response to a label derails your side of an argument, usurping the label can derail the opponent. That is exactly what happened in cosmology. "Big bang" was invented as derogatory term. The big bang cosmologists usurped the label. Doing so took a weapon away from the steady state cosmologists and it made the steady state cosmologists look stupid.
I totally got your point, and it was a good one. I wish I had had more time to include it in my responses, but my new job only allows me a certain window of time in the early morning for posting, and correcting Pete's misrepresentations took up most of it.

I completely agree that the only way to avoid the stigma of a persistent label is to embrace and redefine it so it becomes your own and loses the stigma. I would still like to talk about the difference between how a scientist accepts science and a religious person accepts religion. "Belief" can't mean the same thing to both.

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I also think the opening post was loaded by suggesting there is something psychologically wrong with people who get angry with a label like evolutionist.

That's because you didn't understand how the term psychological basis (i.e. psychological reason) was used in this context. Since only I can say what the purpose of the opening post was then only I can tell you that if anyone did make such an assumption then they be wrong. My question in the opening post was phrased as follows

What I don't understand is the psychological basis for this. Can someone, perhaps somone well versed in psychology, shed some light on why some people get so pissed off by such a universally used term like "evolutionist"?

It was a Why do some people ...? kind of question and as such it was a question on psychology since it addresses mind set. If I thought there was something wrong with people who got pissed off for that reason then I'd have called it a question on pathology rather than psychology.

My question is similar in nature to the questions at The Psychology of Atheism (http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/arch/vitz.txt)

Next, Dr. Vitz moved on to the deeper psychological reasons some

people do not believe in God.

Dr. Vitz didn't imply that there is something psychologically wrong with atheists.

I tried to steer clear of that but putting this thread in this section may have doomed it from the start.

If I placed this in the Evolution forum then people might have thought I wanted to talk about whether the term evolutionist was derogatory, well-defined, meaningful etc. That wasn't what I wanted to know. As sugh this is the correct place to ask this question.

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Pete - It has little or nothing to do with with psychology, and everything to do with past experience and history. The term is the logical extension of Darwinist. The "ist" implies religious acceptance, not rational acceptance based on evidence. The psychology of anger stems from the fact that many people are distressed at how several creationists have tried for years to conflate their belief in spirituality with our belief rooted in evidence, and how they've worked to push creationism into the science classroom using these fallacious equivocations. I'm standing on principle, I concede that, but to call someone an evolutionist marginalizes the profundity of the data which supports their views and concurrently casts aside the overwhelming evidence they have in their favor.

The anger and response is because people care deeply about our collective futures, and seek to strike against any attempts to alter truth due to personal worldviews lacking in evidence. It is a battle taking place on many fronts, and the term evolutionist is just one of them.

It's more about the checkered history of the issue, and the psychology of anger is easily described when viewed in this context. I think DH raises an interesting suggestion about usurping the label, but only to a point. If someone started calling my family imbreds, or if they called me retarded, I wouldn't exactly accept it to "take away their argument." However, my analogy is rather flawed, and as I said, I think DHs suggestion has merit.

I do wish to point out, however, that in one sentence he advocates acceptance of labels and argues that we use them all the time when responding against me, but then immediately after in response to Phi he states that labels are childish and intended only to belittle and get a rise. To his credit, I think DH meant to refer only to derogatory labels in his comments to Phi, not labels in general as in his response to me.

Either way, I want to thank DH, Mr Skeptic, and npts2020 for confirming that my acceptance of thermodynamics and physics allow me to add to my resume that I'm a physicist and thermodynamicist. That will help me during my next job interview.

Edited by iNow
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That's because you didn't understand how the term psychological basis (i.e. psychological reason) was used in this context. Since only I can say what the purpose of the opening post was then only I can tell you that if anyone did make such an assumption then they be wrong. My question in the opening post was phrased as follows
Please don't do this again. I chose the word "suggesting" rather than "stating" to avoid trying to strawman you by claiming to know your "purpose". In much the same way, in post #2, I carefully used the word "implication" rather than claiming that "evolutionist" was absolutely an attempt to equate faith with rigorous study. I'm not comfortable with generalizations, as stated many times in this thread.

If I placed this in the Evolution forum then people might have thought I wanted to talk about whether the term evolutionist was derogatory, well-defined, meaningful etc. That wasn't what I wanted to know. As sugh this is the correct place to ask this question.
It is fine where it is. I would have reported it and suggested it be moved if it was inappropriate, something every member can do.

What I suggested was, in light of subsequent posts, that the implication of a psychological reason for "why some people get so pissed off by such a universally used term like 'evolutionist'", coupled with the evolutionist = belief equation, might have given the intervening fire some substantial kindling.

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