Louisiana State University professor named Leon C. Megginson said in a speech in 1963:
“According to Darwin’s Origin of Species, it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.”
The quote is often mistakenly attributed to Darwin himself, but is in fact Megginson’s own interpretation of the book.
The quote means what it says. An elephant may be strong, but they are still endangered. Their environment is changing as pochers pick them off, human activity encroaches ontheir grazing and they are unable to live in other areas. They are strong, but it is not strength that is required for them to survive. An octopus might be intelligent, but when sea temperatures rise it must adapt, or it will die. Megginson’s interpretation is a very useful summary of the theory of natural selection. Animals don’t go extinct because they aren’t strong enough or because they aren’t smart, but because their circumstances change. The animal then either changes or it becomes extinct.
The quote is often used in business. If you are a movie distributer and try to keep selling VHS after DVD comes along then you go bust. If you keep focusing on DVD distibution once downloading has taken off then you go bust. Not all adaptions are successful – BlueRay never took off (the Zebra that lost its herd instinct in a post above?).
The second quote is by Shannon L. Alder who makes profession from writing “inspirational quotes”. i’m always a bit cynical about these sort of “inspirational” things. The essential message is that only a person can change themselves, it might be because of another person that they decide to make that change, but only they can do it. It has a number of adverse connotations which are not immediately apparent. Implications are that criminal justice can only punish and not reform criminals, that infidelity is a character trait and will inevitably occur again following a first instance. I can think of many more examples but either you get my point or you aren’t going to. I think it is a stupid thing to say, whether it is true or not. Any parent will be able to explain that it feels like your kids will never learn, but one day you look back and realise that they did take in some of what you told them after all. Only a child can take their first steps, you can’t walk for them – that doesn’t mean you stop holding their hand!