Fact Check: Viral image – No, this isn’t a real Charles Darwin quote about what it means to be ‘woke’
“Great is the power of steady misrepresentation,” Charles Darwin once said. That’s perhaps true in the case of a quote attributed to the famed naturalist that periodically appears on social media.
PolitiFact recently published a story on what it means to be “woke,” but a March 15 Facebook post suggests Darwin has it covered.
“WOKE explained by Darwin,” reads the post, which contains some typos. “At some stage, the Human Species will divide. Whilst most will continue to evolve, a minority of those lacking the intellectual capacity of thought, will develop as a sub-species. Being easily lead, form into Packs attempting to control the majority. They will deny biology, attempt to undo the centuries of human development by re-writing history, and gradually revert to their Primate Origins. They will expect all to conform to their point of view without question.”
This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
While this reads like a contemporary and barbed criticism of people who are “woke,” we found no credible sources to corroborate that Darwin said this.
It doesn’t appear in his well-known book “The Origin of the Species,” or “Geological Observations on the Volcanic Islands,” or “The Voyage of the Beagle,” or “The Descent of Man,” or his autobiography, or “The Expression of the Emotions In Man and Animals,” or a series of essays about natural selection, or “The Formation of Vegetable Mould Through the Action of Worms.” Searching these and other writings we could find online, we found nothing like what appears in the Facebook post.
We didn’t turn up any other evidence searching more broadly online. The quotation doesn’t appear in the University of Cambridge’s Darwin Correspondence Project site, though it does make an appearance on several meme sites, and in one case, someone said he was explaining supporters of former President Donald Trump. That, of course, is also baseless — not to mention Darwin died 64 years before Trump was born.
We rate claims that this is an authentic Darwin quote False.