Of snakes and science fads

You will likely recall my citation of Cabal as a poster snake for his claim that Darwinism is a meaningless expression that only exists in creationist literature. Not only was this easily demonstrated to be false, given frequent uses of the term by famous creationists such as Richard Dawkins, but thanks to the Google Ngram Viewer we can see precisely how ludicrously dishonest a claim it was.

The Google Ngram viewer shows the number of times a term was used in various books from 1800 to 2008. This is the tracking of the term Darwinism. Notice how use of the term rises rapidly from 1860 to 1910, then from 1945 to 1998.

Now, what could the two fall-offs that begin in 1928 and 1998 have in common? My initial suspicion is economics. As per socionomic theory, in times of economic contraction, people are less attracted to the purely materialist position for which Darwinism is the primary justification. Everyone is too busy surviving to care much about prehistoric matters or the philosophies that can be derived from them; even the scientists are forced to turn their attention to subjects that provide more immediate grant-generating possibilities and more practical applications. Furthermore, I also surmised that the greater decline in the post-1998 decline may be related to the likely motivation behind Cabal’s claim, because it is apparent that the secular humanist movement has decided to try to move away from the albatross that the term “Darwinism” has become.

However, this latter theory appears to be incorrect, as the use of the term “evolution” has also fallen off at a similar rate of decline. This would tend to support the socionomic theory and disprove the propaganda-related one. And this raises an even more interesting possibility, which is that this relatively recent dropoff may mark the beginning of the abandonment of Darwinism, evolution, and particularly natural selection as real scientific concepts and the end of a 148-year quasi-scientific fad.