Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Outing to London and Leicester

On Saturday morning I decided on something of an impulse to combine a trip to London to attend the Conway Hall talk by Jim Moore on "Darwin and the Sin of Slavery", with a trip to Leicester to attend the lecture by Ken MacLeod on "Darwin Dawkins and the Left". This was just about possible in the time by using booking.com to locate a Hotel and the National Rail Enquiries to book the trains, using a debit card and collecting the tickets from the machine at Hastings station. The machine was a bit recalcitrant but finally came up with the tickets.

One of the interesting points from the Moore lecture that I'd not been aware of was the role of Louis Agassiz (now best known for his work on ice ages) in diverting Darwin's efforts into countering Agassiz's strange theory of multiple 'creations' of separate human races known as polygenism.

Ken McLeod's thesis was that many people on the political Left have deliberately misunderstood Richard Dawkins, or the implications of his "Selfish Gene" idea, though it seems to me that many of other persuasions have been equally free in criticising Dawkins without having apparently read his books.

I was hoping also to fit in a Gresham Lecture by Christopher Hogwood, given at the Museum of London at 1pm today (Tuesday). But this was scuppered since my train was over half an hour late arriving at St Pancras, due apparently to signaling problems. It was also raining, so I used my bus pass to get the No.17 to London Bridge, but managed to get there just in time to miss the first Hastings train.

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