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By ye management of the steam cocks ye motion may be accelerated, retarded, destroy'd, revised, instantly & easyly. " Boulton, the original pioneer of mass production (from belt buckles to steam engines), was too far in debt to act on Darwin's suggestion at the time, but the concept would resurface, like Darwinism, first in the age of railroads and then in the age of automobiles. A few years later, when James Watt developed the condenser engine, it was Darwin who promoted the Boulton & Watt partnership that brought the Industrial Revolution–and, soon enough, the "fiery chariot"–to life.
The ghost of Samuel Butler haunts the fringes of evolutionary biology today. How random is random variation? Is life the work of natural selection alone—or is there an element of intelligent search, if not design? "55 This insight would be immortalized as the aphorism that a chicken is an egg's way of making another egg. Butler's ideas about ideas, expressed best in his introduction to Luck, or Cunning? anticipated what, also thanks to Dawkins, we now call memes: "Ideas are like plants and animals in this respect also.
According to the dual-origin hypothesis, natural selection may have operated in a purely statistical fashion for millions if not hundreds of millions of years before selfreplicating instructions took control. This brings us back to Butler versus Darwin, because during this extended evolutionary prelude Lamarckian, not neo-Darwinian, selection would have been at work. We should think twice before dismissing Lamarck because Lamarckian evolution may have taken our cells the first–and most significant– step toward where we stand today.