Darwin's Dangerous Idea

Darwin's Dangerous Idea

Ratings: 7.30/10 from 27 users.

Darwin's Dangerous IdeaAndrew Marr explores how Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection has taken on a life of its own far beyond the world of science.

In the first episode of the three-part series, he argues that Darwin's theory has transformed our understanding of what it means to be human. Over the last 150 years, Darwin's ideas have challenged the need for a creator, undermined religious authority, and provided new ways of looking at the origins of human morality.

Andrew Marr discovers something surprising about his own evolutionary history as this epic series continues with an exploration of Darwin's impact on politics and society.

Under the banner of Survival of the Fittest, Darwin's theory of natural selection has been used to justify imperial expansion and the oppression of indigenous peoples; to inform the science of eugenics - the selective breeding of humans which was implemented in the United States in the early 20th century; and to provide a veneer of scientific respectability to Nazi plans to create an Aryan master race. It was also used quite explicitly to explain the twisted logic of the final solution.

In the final episode of this ground-breaking series about Charles Darwin's legacy, Andrew Marr discovers how Darwin's ideas are helping us to save ourselves and all life on earth from extinction. Marr argues that Charles Darwin is the father of ecology. The modern environmental movement was built upon his insight that all life on earth is linked by a delicate web of connections. He also discovers that Darwin's dangerous idea is inspiring scientists to create a 'flotilla of Darwinian Noah's Arks' to help save life on earth from disaster.

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42 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Dai

    The video isn't of Andrew Marr's BBC documentary, but rather the first part of a US seven parter (PBS I think?). Not to say the video isn't good, just not as described

  2. Robert

    I see a lot of people saying Darwin's survival of the fittest. It was not Darwin that used that quote it was Herbert Spencer.

  3. elmer

    I always thought that divine, was where the grapes grew.

  4. jaberwokky

    Very good doc that takes an illuminating and honest look at the reach, implications, effects and misrepresentations of Darwin's theory of evolution across the last 150 odd years. It also shows how dangerous a badly interpreted idea in the wrong hands can be. I wonder what the great man would think if he were alive today.

  5. over the edge

    Al Klymko
    i am not a fan of trolls but in this case i hope you are one. if you are not your post is a frightening indictment of the education system (no matter where you are from). can you take a break from displaying your ignorance and list your issues with his theory? or is this the best you have?

  6. Al Klymko

    Was Darwin a scientist? Why do people believe the ideas of a guy that had no clue about science? How is he different from the Turkish guy mentioned in the beginning of the documentary? Why is it that people don't challenge Darwin's unscientific ideas for not having some sort of science degree? Would you allow a mechanic perform heart surgery on you only because he says he knows a lot about the heart? Would you allow a hairdresser do brain surgery on you just because he did well in his science class? Some of you would since you don't even care to search more about Darwin's life. Darwin's ideas are based on physical observations. That is why the world has tried to dig up some "proof" that his ideas are true. But so far, they have come short of that.

    1. robertallen1

      You've obviously read nothing about Drawin, much less any of his seminal works, but you post anyway. Your statements are thus asinine in that they reflect an ignorance of Darwin's life (at the time he graduated from Cambridge, degrees in science were rare if non-existent) and his work--the hard, physical evidence for natural selection is overwhelming. The only thing you are correct about is Darwin's ideas being based on physical observation, the very heart of science. Now, which ones of Darwin's ideas do you find unscientific?

      In short, another ignorant post.

    2. Yavanna

      Where to start........ You clearly have no idea what the definition of scientist is. He was a person that practised the scientific method. I suggest you go away and learn the English language before you make semantic arguments.

      Would I allow a mechanic to operate on your heart? Sure why not - whilst he is there he could probably do a better job on fixing your brain as clearly the only instruction it has received to date is via a bronze age book. Hell the hairdresser would probably help too so why not! A well aimed clump from a hammer from whatever profession you so choose would make you more intelligent.

      Some of us DO research Darwin's life. He is the father of modern biology which in part you should thank for your continued existence And should you ever do some reading of your own you might find he was more knowledgeable about theology than you too.

      Altogether a remarkable man. Quite the opposite of you.

  7. Faisal Saeed Al Mutar

    Recommmended to everyone who wants to know about the fact that Evolution is a Scientific theory , and Social Darwinism is NOT, don't mix facts with beliefs!

    1. Winston Smith

      And a 'scientific theory' is made up of facts that support it. Something can only be called a theory in science when it's been proven through measurable and observable facts to be so.

  8. anuragawasthi

    The Fight is over which came first 'chicken or the egg'

    Darwin says that from matter, intelligence is born and religion says that it is other way around.

    1. Joe Manning

      I think that's an oversimplification, though. Religion was conceived on a worldwide platform throughout our history because we lacked answers, "god of the gaps" logic. Evolutionary theory is not the opposite side of that coin because that coin belongs solely in the pseudo-philosophy section. Evolutionary theory was developed through our natural scientific curiosity, which is almost the counter-balance to the intellectual laziness of the later generations to break out of our religious funk. Evolutionary biology has saved countless lives, religion has taken countless lives. The argument of who has been "saved" in religion is entirely voiced from one's own biases and their version of the "god of the gap" logic. While evolutionary theory is derived from hard-earned sciences, tested and re-tested to bring about provable results. Religion is obsolete, science is the future. Looking out our history in a linear fashion is an arguable point but I'd say that we were heavily theistic and uneducated for most of our existence and evolution. Now we are keeping people alive who should be dead and we are evolving through our own creations and knowledge.
      No other species on the planet has ever accomplished that. But chimpanzees do display some traits that you would find in an extremely pious person with little education or understanding of the natural world. I'm not saying that as an insult, it's just a fact. We obviously share the same traits as our ape cousins. Look for the documentary "Being Human" with Alan Alda in it, very interesting and should offer a much better perspective on the subject than I just poorly illustrated.

  9. E

    wow - i thought Islam was the root of all evil!

    1. Guest

      @ E
      Nah, just some of it...Like every other religion (or thing) that seeks (or obtains) tyranny over the mind of man.

  10. Waite Fox

    Breaks my heart that a boy like that goin' bad.

  11. Colene Ramoutar


  12. noahracheljohnson

    Good pace, nothing too hokey, just enough stock footage. I dug it.

  13. OccultAlien

    good series, goes thru all the ignorant misinterpretations of darwin's theory and the damage they have caused. and finishes with some explanations of beneficial scientific interpretations and applications.

  14. RileyRampant

    heavy-handed. intelligence is certainly a heritable quality. he did his best to deride that notion.

    now, implementing a social policy based upon such a natural fact would most likely prove to be monstrous, but his presentation was to ridicule the very idea itself - which struck me, at least, as just the soft of sloppy thinking he was apparently engaged in debunking.

    nice mention about rachel carson , though. what a hero she was for the planet. its odd that what seems to us, in retrospect, as simple common-sense was attacked at the time as extreme.

  15. Jacob Griesmer

    herbert spencer's social darwinism has nothing to do with darwin and is a misunderstanding of evolution. humans interbreed too much, so we essentially all have the same gene pool. we're not going to, nor have we evolved apart from each other.

    1. adilrye

      Very true, like many radical ideologies are from more centrist ideologies...but it is still derived from Darwinism, in a sense. Without Darwinism, SD could not exist.

  16. Guest

    Just finished the first part. Wow very enjoyable and thought provoking.
    On to the next.

  17. Yavanna

    9/10 But only because I`m not a fan of the presenter

  18. Guest

    The most dangerous practical adaption of Darwins "survival of the fittest" theory in human culture and society is socialdarwinism aka rawcapitalism or corporatism, without any single shadow of a welfarestate nearby. What it means is that those who are naturally, socially or environmetally "left behind" the human masses of "progressness" are according to the universal law of darwanism; doomed to death rightfully! That is exactly how the ultimate rich justify the evergrowing inequality and injustices in a society. They simply blame the weak, the abused, the looser, the natural outcast, instead of taking part in rebuilding the weaks of a society in to a better integrating society, where rights for the weak are respected as much for those who are naturally strong.

  19. Nick Arrizza

    Well, if individuals like Ray Kurzweil and his friends at Carnegie Mellon have their way Darwin's theory will be used to turn us into robots and lead to the extinction of humanity as we know it. Some view that as a sign of progress. I see it as a grand form of manipulation to turn human beings against their true nature as the divine beings that we truly are. p.s. I am also not a Creationist and do not wish to be painted or dismissed with that brush.

    1. robertallen1

      What makes you think that you know anything about human beings' true naure?

    2. 0zyxcba1

      "...divine beings that we truly are."

      What does 'divine' mean?
      Seriously, I've always wanted to know.

    3. Guest

      If my alien plot is right (The Secret Evidence, We Are Not Alone)...then we are truly divine or godlike.
      As for the Alien's GOD...would be nice to start with a fresh quest not rooted in religion interpretation.

    4. 0zyxcba1

      @ Azilda

      You repeat that "we are truly divine or godlike." You also seem to favor a "...fresh quest not rooted in religion interpretation" as an attribute to the meaning of 'divine'. But you have not told me, not even intimated, what the word means.

      If you do not know, then please just tell me.


    5. jonathan jackward

      heavenly; celestial:

    6. robertallen1

      Unlike Ozyxcba1, I have no problem with understanding the word "divine." What makes you think that humans are anything other than one of the many creatures who with their capabilities and their limitations that inhabit (have inhabited) the earth?

      Also, as pointed out in the documentary, Darwin described, not prescribed. Therefore, your opening statement is not only absurd, but ignorant.

  20. dotje1973

    lol just a riddle : evelution theory or not the theory is about "creation"
    ummzzz by what or who or why ,some call it god others call it mother earht some say the universe !
    Fact : we are created tattaaaa
    so were back to zero lol

    hugs Dotty (the Netherlands)

    1. 0zyxcba1

      "evelution theory or not the theory is about 'creation'"


      Sorry to have to be the one to break it to you, but evolution is not about the origins of life and evolution says nothing about 'creation'.

      Evolution is about the development of life already in existence.

    2. robertallen1

      Darwin dealt (Darwinism deals) with the evolution of life, not the creation of the world. At least Ozyxcaba1 knows what he is talking about, pity you dont! I suggest you try reading.

  21. Gary V

    Another superb series of docs from the BBC. Very interesting & informative. Thanks Vlatko, it is great to be able to watch theses again.

  22. xXladXx

    the creator and the creation are one and the same.

    1. Guest

      Having faith in the miracles of life is not to know that you will get what you want, it is to trust that you will want what you get.
      one morning 1 thought in i

    2. 0zyxcba1

      Sounds like Russian roulette to me!

  23. NAND Gate

    Brilliant choice Vlatko. One of my favorites. All hail evolutionary biology. Time to watch it again

  24. Fecioru Florin

    Pssst? Mister Vlatko? you repeated yourself a bit in the beginning of the description. Thank you for the documentaries - BBC's are my favorite.

    1. Vlatko

      Right @Fecioru. Sorry about that. Corrected.

    2. from212

      Hey Vlatko, there is this really cool doc I have been trying to find with no luck. It is about this lady named Marlice van Vuuren, she walks around petting, feeding and even sleeping with wild animals like lions and cheetahs. There are previews on youtube... It looks like a fascinating watch.