Monday, September 28, 2009

In Our Time - The Weak Shall Inherit the Earth

In the 2003 In Our Time explored the cultural history of war: BBC - Radio 4 - The Art of War.

During the programme, one of the guests mentions Karl Pearson an early 20th century social Darwinist and "Professor of Eugenics" [1]. Pearson praised war as the engine of racial fitness and national progress. If not for war, it was said in Pearson's time, "the weak shall inherit the earth" [2].

These memes are with us still, though in the west they are rarely explicit.

[1] Those of us who did med school stats may remember the "Pearson distribution". Same guy.
[2] It's not clear from the discussion if the phrase came from Pearson, but I suspect it was a common usage of the time. Not for the first time I wish there were more IOT transcripts. The "After Our Time" wiki has @50 IOT transcripts, but the blog and wiki was only active for a few months in 2007. Among those few transcripts, incidentally, are early programmes that have been lost, including one featuring Stephen Jay Gould.

Update Feb 17, 2010: The Lost Episodes are now online.

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