The Prince of Evolution

On natural selection and social behavior.

Of Davy Jones and Thomas Henry Huxley

Your one chance to see a comparison of Davy Jones and Thomas Henry Huxley.

Ok, pay attention, because this is likely the one and only time you will read a serious comparison of Davy Jones, lead singer of the Monkees, and Thomas Henry Huxley, aka Darwin's Bulldog. The comparison isn't of what these men did, which was as different as can be imagined, but what they invoke.

As many of you know, Davy Jones died today (Wednesday, February 29, 2012). I was surprised at how much his death affected me. I suppose that part of the reason that I was hit hard was that, though I can't name a song written in the last 10 years, I can sing many a Monkees tune by heart. But, as I listened to "I'm a Believer" on my iphone, I realized it was more than just the fact that Jones and the Monkees take me back to fond memories of childhood. And it wasn't just that having Marsha Brady swoon at your feet makes you ubercool in my book.

And then it hit me: The effect that Davy and the Monkees, especially the television show they did, had on me was strikingly similar to the effect that reading Thomas Henry Huxley has on me. They scream out, literally in one case, not so much in the other:

1. Think unconventionally.

2. Always challenge arguments from authority.

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3. Love what you do, because you only get one shot at it.

I have written much on Huxley, and he remains an intellectual of hero of mine. But now, for a moment, it is time to say, peace Davy Jones, and thanks for everything.

Lee Alan Dugatkin, Ph.D., is a professor and Distinguished University Scholar in the Department of Biology at the University of Louisville.


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