Friday, August 17, 2012

Hire learning

In 1853, the University of Toronto had the opportunity to hire T.H. Huxley, one of the world's best known and most important scientists, an English pioneer in evolution, and a colleague of Charles Darwin.

U of T needed a head for its new natural history department. Huxley applied with recommendations from many top scientists, including Darwin.

Puzzlingly, the university instead chose the relatively unknown Irish Reverend William Hincks, who rejected the theory of evolution in favour of the Quinarian system, a soon to be discredited method of classification that organized all living things into groups of five.

Some suspect that the choice might have been influenced by the fact that the reverend was a brother of Francis Hincks, then Premier of Ontario.

[Written with material from The Toronto Dreams Project]

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