, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 42-43
Date: 21 Nov 2007

Use the Word Evolution

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Examples of rapid evolution abound in the scientific literature and are regularly reported in the popular press, and yet, most nonscientists think that evolution is a glacially slow process that is almost impossible for humans to observe. This disconnection between reality and perception is our fault, and the solution to correcting that misperception is simple, at least with respect to microevolutionary change.

Part of the problem is that we often fail to use the word evolution even when we mean exactly that. Instead, we have developed a rich vocabulary of alternatives that take the place of the word evolution in much scientific and popular writing. These alternatives or euphemisms are so common that they seem natural to us. I have collected some of the more common ones and a few of the less common ones in TableĀ 1.

There is nothing wrong with sometimes using these euphemisms as a substitute for the word evolution. We all use them. Their use, though, has become so pervasive that some ent